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Essentially, I understand that lower courts are bound by decisions of "superior" courts/ Courts of Appeals (DC by the CoA and SCOTUS, and CoA by SCOTUS) and stare decisis. Even considering the binding authority of appellate courts. However, I was curious if it a) is even at all possible for a District Court (or CoA) to set aside binding precedent and rule in opposition to said precedent or out of line with said precedent and b) what the treatment of that decision is on appeal, would the appeals court merely do something along the lines of a GVR or would they hear the case? In general, I suppose I'm also curious regarding the actual logistics of stare decisis and precedent. Thank you.

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a) is even at all possible for a District Court (or CoA) to set aside binding precedent and rule in opposition to said precedent or out of line with said precedent

No.

A lower court may not rule against a binding precedent, even if it feels that it is unjust; it may only express the hope that a higher court or the legislature will reform the rule in question. If the court believes that developments or trends in legal reasoning render the precedent unhelpful, and wishes to evade it and help the law evolve, it may either hold that the precedent is inconsistent with subsequent authority, or that it should be distinguished by some material difference between the facts of the cases; some jurisdictions allow for a judge to recommend that an appeal be carried out. If that judgment goes to appeal, the appellate court will have the opportunity to review both the precedent and the case under appeal, perhaps overruling the previous case law by setting a new precedent of higher authority.

b) what the treatment of that decision is on appeal, would the appeals court merely do something along the lines of a GVR or would they hear the case?

A court that has the discretion on whether to hear appeals may exercise that discretion and let the wrong decision stand. They might do this if the error is not material, or the issue is not legally significantly, or the injustice is slight.

A court that has no discretion or one that does and accepts the case will either overturn the lower court decision or, if they are high enough in the chain, uphold the decision and overturn the precedent.

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    Not wrong. But trial courts first of all, do sometimes decide cases contrary to controlling law, secondly, almost any case can be factually distinguished (sometimes more and sometimes less convincingly) based upon factual differences, third, not of COA rulings are binding on a particular U.S. District Court, and fourth, sometimes the continued validity of old precedents is in doubt because despite no court expressly saying it is overruled, developments of principles in other controlling cases call its continuing validity into question. So, in real life it isn't as mechanical as it seems.
    – ohwilleke
    Feb 16, 2022 at 21:54
  • @ohwilleke So in those cases where decisions are rendered contrary to the controlling law by a lower court is there any favored approach of the appeals court? If the appeals court stands by the controlling law and the case is appealed will they normally do something like a GVR or moreso actually hear the case? (even with no intention of changing the controlling law) Thanks!
    – Dot_plot21
    Feb 16, 2022 at 22:11
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    First of all, the key point in those cases where decisions are rendered contrary to the controlling law is that 90%+ of cases are not appealed even if there is a very clear basis for doing so, for all manner of reasons from the amount at stake and the cost of doing so, to the impact of delay and uncertainty, to the likely remedy of remand to the same judge if you win. Intermediate appellate courts handle all cases the same procedurally regardless of the basis for the appeal subject to exceptions much more dire than ignoring controlling precedents, e.g. in election law where timing is critical.
    – ohwilleke
    Feb 16, 2022 at 22:33

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