From my article included in The Next Generation of Modern Orthodoxy (The Orthodox Forum), ed. R. Shmuel Hain (link):
The issue of rabbinic authority in the Modern Orthodox community is not a matter of how wide a rabbi’s authority spreads—whether his opinion is decisive on issues of aesthetics, politics, and so forth, or just on ritual. Those were the subject of discussions held at previous Orthodox Forums and generally contrasted our (centrist) limited views with the more expansive conceptions on the religious right.
Today’s debate is whether rabbis have any authority at all. A rabbi who has shown himself to be wise will be consulted on issues ranging from the religious to the personal. His advice will be taken seriously because of his insight—but is it binding? When the issue is not halakhic, it is assumed in our community that his advice is nothing more than helpful suggestions. The question before us deals with halakhic issues. In the following three sections, I argue that there is a need for a personal halakhic decisor, that this guide should be your synagogue rabbi, and that today people often do not turn to their synagogue rabbi for halakhic guidance due to a variety of reasons. I then offer practical suggestions for changing the situation by establishing a partnership among rabbis, communal leaders, and roshei yeshivah.
The idea of asking a personal she’eilah on halakhic matters seems to be rooted in an explicit biblical passage… (Deut. 17:8–10).
The context of this passage and the initial words ki yippalei led the Sages to see this passage as obligating religious judges to take their unresolved questions to a higher authority. Despite the sensible kal va-ḥomer, I have not found any midrash or commentary that derives from this verse an obligation on a layman to present his halakhic difficulties to a religious authority. The reason for this, I believe, is that this need is so fundamental and obvious that it requires no compulsion. Of course, anyone interested in following the word of God who is unsure of the proper route will ask an expert for clarification of the law. We will otherwise be paralyzed by uncertainty or forced into stringency…
Continued here: here.