Law School Discussion

Stare Decisis vs. Binding Precedent

Stare Decisis vs. Binding Precedent
« on: June 21, 2005, 10:28:19 PM »
I just started Delany's "Learning Legal Reasoning." I'm having a hard
time distinguishing the difference between stare decisis and binding
  >:(. He defines the doctrine of stare decisis as: "the decision
of a court in one case procides a precedent for the decision of future
cases with like or similar facts and issues..." He defines binding
precedent as: "the decision of a court in a prior case controls the
decision in future cases with like or similar facts and issues for
both the deciding court and for all inferior courts within the same
jurisdiction." So, by Delany's explanation, am I to assume that
binding precedent is a form of stare decisis? Any input on this topic
would be helpful. ;D

Re: Stare Decisis vs. Binding Precedent
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2005, 03:09:57 PM »
Precedent is binding if a higher court has made a decision or interpretation that a lower court must follow. 
Stare decisis is where a court maintains the status quo - that is, it reaffirms a previous decision or bases a new decision its own prior decision.

For example (I apologize if this example addresses a touchy subject, but you will cover it in Con Law.)

In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the US Supreme Court had the opportunity to address Roe v. Wade, which held that state restrictions on abortion during the first two trimesters of pregnancy violate the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.  They decided to reaffirm Roe's central holding, basing their decision in large part on stare decisis.  This is not because the precedent was binding - the US Supreme Court can overrule itself.
Casey also held that states may not place undue burdens on the right, and that requiring spousal consent is an undue burden.  Therefore, requiring spousal consent violates the Constitution.  This is binding precedent on any lower court and government agency.  A Federal Court of Appeals must hold that requiring spousal consent is unconstitutional. 

Regarding the example of previous states. If one state makes a decision about its own state law or on federal laws, and uses another state's decision as authority, that is an example of neither binding precedent nor stare decisis.  It just means that it found that state court's analysis persuasive.
However, sometimes state X will have to make a ruling on state Y's law, and they must use state Y's interpretation of the law.  But that's a choice of law issue that you may or not cover in Civil Procedure.

Re: Stare Decisis vs. Binding Precedent
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2005, 03:35:54 PM »
I thought Stare Decisis was an actress.  I could have swore that I saw her in Mr. and Mrs. Smith...

I thought Binding Precedent was our 42 Prez?