U.S Legal System

The Legal System of the United States is a mixed combination of federal government and the governments of the fifty states. It consists of executive, legislative and judicial subdivisions of government, and distributed powers among the states and the central governments, which exist as parallel systems. The relationship amid the state and federal systems can be somewhat complicated. In the Constitution the powers of the central government are particularly described, while the other powers are under the authority of the 50 sovereign states.

Moving further, The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution states that all laws enacted according to the Constitution are the supreme laws while federal regulations have legal supremacy over state laws and constitution. (Sinclair, 2007) The Constitution The originating document for the United States Central government is the Constitution. It gives the legal basis on which all the actions of the central government must rest, while describes its arrangement, and ensures the rights due to its people. Laws that oppose any of the Constitution’s principles are void.

Interpretation of the Constitution and evaluation of the constitutionality of central and state laws is done by federal courts. According to the Constitution, central government comprises of three separate and equal subdivisions: legislative, executive and judicial. Congress, the legislative subdivision is in charge of making laws. Managerial and dictatorial power resides with the President and cabinet, which are the executive subdivision while law interpretation is with the judiciary. To sum up, the Supreme Court’s judgment is considered to be the "final word" in United States law though the Congress has the power to amend it.

(Sinclair, 2007) Relationship between Stare Decisis and Precedent Stare Decisis means to stand by that which is decided or to abide in accordance to what is decided while Precedent on an issue refers to a combined structure of legally declared principals courts should take into account while assessing the law. When a precedent sets up a significant judicial law, or symbolizes new or modified rule on a specific subject, that precedent is frequently referred to as a decision that is to be a landmark.

So the relationship between the two is quite obvious as both the terms are closely connected, thus to conclude Stare Decisis is the principle that the courts should follow the precedent decisions. (Maltz, 2005) Stare Decisis As mentioned before Stare Decisis is to abide or adhere to decided cases. It is a general saying that a precedent is formed when a point has been established by decision which is not later to be departed from. In situations when the courts find it essential to overrule cases which have been unwisely determined, or are differing to principle, the doctrine of Stare Decisis is not always to be relied upon.

In the American books of records quite a number of such overruled cases may be found. An appeal court's council is obliged by decisions of upper councils unless a Supreme Court decision or following legislation overrules those decisions. It is a primary jurisprudential guiding principle that prior valid precedent usually must be adhered to even though the case, if considered unusual, might be decided differently by the current justices though the policy of Stare Decisis does not stop reassessment and if necessary modifying or abolishing prior decisions.

The assumption that is taken into account for this course of action is that certainty, expectedness and steadiness in the law are the major purposes of the legal system; for instance, that conducting and entering into relationships with sensible assurance of the governing rules of law is what parties should be able to regulate.

Therefore, a party claiming modifying a precedent confronts a truly burdensome task, the difficulty of which is more or less relative to a number of reasons, counting the age of the precedent, the characteristics and degree of public and private dependence on it, and its constancy or discrepancy with other related rules of law. (Shalal, 1988) Precedent Precedent as mentioned before is a function or example that an be referred to as an example in handling with following alike instances.

In other words, the law or a legal conclusion that can be utilized as a standard in proceeding related situations. Precedent is principal to jurisprudential examination and decisions in nations that abide by common regulations while in few structures precedent is not compulsory but is bore in mind and considered important by the courts. (Benac, 2005) Precedent that is to be compulsorily employed or followed is referred to as binding precedent also called binding authority, mandatory precedent, or etc.

According to the policy called Stare Decisis, decisions of law concluded by a prior court should be honored by the lower court. Authority is often distributed geographically in the state and central courts of United States amongst regional trial courts, many of which come below the area of a local appeals court, and all local courts come below a supreme court. By exactness laws made by lower courts are not necessary on each other or any courts prior in the structure, neither are the laws of appeals court obligatory on each other or on regional courts that come below a dissimilar appeals court.

Moving on, decrees of rules given earlier on other cases should be followed by courts, and they should give priority to decisions given by other courts in disputes earlier being relevant to similar design of particulars or occurrence, until they have a powerful factor to modify these decisions. (Benac, 2005) The other type of precedent is the persuasive precedent which is not compulsory but which is helpful or applicable; it is also called advisory precedent or persuasive authority.

Cases decided by lower courts, by parallel or superior courts from other authorities, cases made in other parallel systems (for example, administrative courts, State courts versus Central courts in the United States, native /tribal courts, military courts), and in few incomparable situations, cases of other treaties, world legal bodies, countries, etc. Courts often refer to persuasive precedents given by courts in other authorities that have in the past confronted the same or comparable occurrences.

If a higher court adopts a persuasive precedent it becomes a mandatory or binding precedent which would be referred to as an example in the future. (Benac, 2005)


  • Moradi-Shalal, The 'Lectric Law Library's Lexicon on” Stare Decisis” http://www. lectlaw. com/def2/s065. htm Accessed October 18, 2008 Sinclair, Michael. (2007).
  • Precedent, Super-Precedent, George Mason Law Review (14 Geo. Mason L. Rev. 363) http://www. law. gmu. edu/gmulawreview/issues/14-2/documents/SINCLAIR. pdf Accessed October 18, 2008 Benac, Nancy. (2005)Roberts Repeatedly Dodges Roe v.
  • Wade, Associated Press Specter asked, would you think that Roe might be a super-duper precedent? http://www. breitbart. com/article. php? id=D8CJENHO1&show_article=1 Accessed October 18, 2008 Maltz, Earl. (2005).
  • Abortion, Precedent, and the Constitution: A Comment on Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey", 68 Notre Dame L. Rev. 11 (1992), quoted by Rosen, Jeffrey. So, Do You Believe in 'Superprecedent'? , NY Times http://www. nytimes. com/2005/10/30/weekinreview/30rosen. html? ei=5090&en=aaedb14066699300&ex=1288324800&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=print Accessed October 18, 2008