Suppose a circuit panel publishes the following decision:

Statute A applies to individuals in situation B, because X implies Y.

Are the trial judges within this circuit bound to the statement that Statute A applies to individuals in situation B? Or are they bound to the reasoning that X implies Y? Or both?

  • Have you encountered a holding that talks that way? Lower courts are bound by the ruling, not an attempt to reduce a legal principle to a formula, so what matters is what the ruling says.
    – user6726
    May 2, 2020 at 16:01
  • No, I haven't. I suppose my issue is with the word "ruling", and how this "ruling" is distinguished from the rest of the decision.
    – David
    May 2, 2020 at 16:06
  • 1
    Aha. There is a distinction now clearly made in SCOTUS (and other) opinions between the "holding" and the rest of the opinion which makes life much simpler. See Chisholm v. Georgia where you have to be a legal scholar to figure out what the bottom line is.
    – user6726
    May 2, 2020 at 17:36


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