Available in Russian
Authors: Aleksey Grin'ko, Kirill Zharinov
Keywords: binding force; case law; legal doctrine; sources of U.S. law; U.S. judiciary
The doctrine of precedent being recognized as an inherent part of the American legal system provokes a permanent discussion about the sources and nature of its binding force. The scholars continually examine the correlation between common and written law, especially, the U.S. Constitution as its paramount form. Some authors given the absence of stare decisis doctrine in the plain language of the Constitution tend to believe that common law is not included in the supreme law of the land and therefore, judges should follow it as a matter of their discretion. Others suppose that the doctrine of precedent was implied by the Founders in the structure and understandings of key terms that makes it binding on the judiciary. This Article attempts to suggest another approach to such problem. Considering the nature of binding force and the methods of its attribution to a legal doctrine (basing on the recent case-law) we conclude that the obligatory status of the stare decisis doctrine derives from the will of the judiciary rather than people or the legislature. It is the judicial community who decided to treat a precedent as binding on each of them. This fact makes third parties believe that such a precedent would be applied in case of potential proceedings and therefore, act in accordance with it. The declared conclusion is supported by the examination of such legal mechanisms as appellate review and judicial discipline process which enforce the doctrine regardless of one’s subjective attitude – that is essential for a rule to be binding. These findings suggest that further examination of written law as a source of common law seems to be impractical and it would be more reasonable to focus on the role of the judiciary and their willingness to enforce the stare decisis doctrine in future.
About the authors: Aleksey Grin'ko – Master of Laws, Moscow, Russia; Kirill Zharinov – Ph.D. Student, Attorney at Law, European Law Department, MGIMO University, Associate at “Musaev and Associates”, Moscow, Russia.
Citation: Grin'ko A., Zharinov K. Volya sudebnogo soobshchestva kak istochnik obyazyvayushchey sily pretsedentnogo prava SSHA [The American common law and the will of the judiciary as a source of its binding force]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.29, no.6, pp.51–78. (In Russian).
Amar A.R. (2000) Foreword: The Document and the Doctrine. Harvard Law Review, vol.114, no.1, pp.26–134.
Banks C.P. (1999) Reversals of Precedent and Judicial Policy-Making: How Judicial Conceptions of Stare Decisis in the U.S. Supreme Court Influence Social Changes. Akron Law Review, vol.32, no.2, pp.2–24.
Bellia A.J. (2006) State Courts and the Interpretation of Federal Statutes. Vanderbilt Law Review, vol.59, no.5, pp.1501–1558.
Bickel A.M. (1962) The Least Dangerous Branch: The Supreme Court at the Bar of Politics, Indianapolis, IN; New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company.
Bork R.H. (1990) The Tempting of America, New York: The Free Press.
Bernam U. (2006) Pravovaya sistema SSHA, V.A.Vlasikhin (transl.), Moscow: Novaya yustitsia. (In Russian).
Cardozo B.N. (1921) The Nature of Judicial Process, New Haven, CT; London: Yale University Press.
Careron J.D. (1977) The Inherent Power of a State’s Highest Court to Discipline the Judiciary. Chicago-Kent Law Review, vol.54, no.1, pp.45–58.
Clark B.R. (2003) The Supremacy Clause as a Constraint on Federal Power. George Washington Law Review, vol.71, no.1, pp.91–103.
Clark B.R. (2008) Federal Lawmaking and the Role of Structure in Constitutional Interpretation. California Law Review, vol.96, no.3, pp.699–730.
Clark B.R. (2008) The Procedural Safeguards of Federalism. Notre Dame Law Review, vol.83, no.4, pp.1681–1712.
Deneka I.M. (2012) O nekotorykh osobennostyakh pretsedenta v federal'nykh okruzhnykh sudakh SShA [About some aspects of precedent in the US Courts of Appeals]. Gosudarstvo i pravo, no.8, pp.92−98. (In Russian).
Douglas W. (1949) Stare Decisis. Columbia Law Review, vol.49, no.6, pp.735–758.
Fallon R.H., Jr. (2001) Stare Decisis and the Constitution: An Essay on Constitutional Methodology. New York University Law Review, vol.76, no.2, pp.570–597.
Gray C. (2004) The Line between Legal Error and Judicial Misconduct: Balancing Judicial Independence and Accountability. Hofstra Law Review, vol.32, no.4, pp.1245–1280.
Hall K.L., Hall M.D. (eds.) (2007) Collected Works of James Wilson. Vol.2, Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund.
Hamilton A. The Federalist Papers: No.78. Available at: https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed78.asp (accessed: 16.12.2020).
Hanna J. (1957) The Role of Precedent in Judicial Decision. Villanova Law Review, vol.2, no.3, pp.367–384.
Jackson R.H. (1953) The Task of Maintaining Our Liberties: The Role of the Judiciary. American Bar Association Journal, vol.39, no.11, pp.961–965.
Kniffen M.N. (1982) Overruling the Supreme Court Precedents: Anticipatory Actions by United States Court of Appeals. Fordham Law Review, vol.51, no.1, pp.53–89.
Kross R. (1985) Pretsedent v angliyskom prave, T.V.Aparova (transl.), F.M.Reshetnikov (ed.), Moscow: Yuridicheskaya literatura. (In Russian).
Marchenko M.N. (2006) Sudebnyy pretsedent: raznoobrazie ponyatiy i mnogoobrazie form proyavleniya [Judicial precedent: variety of concepts and forms]. Zhurnal rossiyskogo prava, vol.114, no.6, pp.96–107. (In Russian).
McCutchen P.B. (1994) Mistakes Precedent and the Rise of the Administrative State: Toward a Constitutional Theory of the Second Best. Cornell Law Review, vol.80, no.1, pp.1–42.
Mead J.W. (2012) Stare Decisis in the Inferior Courts of the United States. Nevada Law Journal, vol.12, no.3, pp.787–830.
Monoghan H.P. (2010) Supremacy Clause Textualism. Columbia Law Review, vol.110, no.3, pp.731–796.
Orlov A.V. (2011) Pragmatizm kak filosofskaya osnova teorii sudebnogo pretsedenta v SShA [Pragmatism as a philosophical foundation of the theory of judical precedent in the United States]. Vestnik Yuzhno-Ural'skogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta, no.27, pp.17–20. (In Russian).
Paulsen M.S. (2000) Abrogating Stare Decisis by Statute: May Congress Remove the Precedential Effect of Roe and Casey? Yale Law Journal, vol.109, no.7, pp.1535–1602.
Petrova E.A. (2007) Statuty i pretsedenty v sisteme istochnikov amerikanskogo prava [Statutes and precedents as sources of American law], Ivanovo: Ivanovskiy gosudarstvennyy universitet. (In Russian).
Phillips J.C. (2016) Is Stare Decisis Inconsistent with the Original Meaning of the Constitution?: Exploring the Theoretical and Empirical Possibilities. Notre Dame Law Review, vol.91, no.2, pp.115–127.
Robinson K.S. (2019) Judges Policing Judges: Judges True Disciplinary Actions Are Rare (1). Bloomberg Law, 26 September. Available at: https://news.bloomberglaw.com/us-law-week/judges-policing-judges-true-disciplinary-actions-are-rare (accessed: 16.12.2020).
Stern G. (2004) Judicial Error That Is Subject to Discipline in New York. Hofstra Law Review, vol.32, no.4, pp.1547–1563.
Tiedeman C.G. (1890) The Unwritten Constitution of the United States: a Philosophical Inquiry into the Fundamentals of American Constitutional Law, New York: G.P.Putnam’s Sons.
Richey W. (2009) Sotomayor Dodges Gun-Rights Questions. The Christian Science Monitor, 15 July. Available at: https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2009/0715/sotomayor-dodges-gun-rights-questions (accessed: 16.12.2020).