The man who will follow precedent, but never create one, is merely an obvious example of the routineer [a person who follows routine]. You find him desperately numerous in the civil service, in the official bureaus. To him government is something given as unconditionally, as absolutely as ocean or hill. He goes on winding the tape that he finds. His imagination has rarely extricated itself from under the administrative machine to gain any sense of what a human, temporary contraption the whole affair is. What he thinks is the heavens above him is nothing but the roof.Grammar.com’s section on Problem Words discusses precedence and precedent. Click here for that discussion.
—Walter Lippmann A Preface to Politics (1913)