Obiter Definition Law
It is not always clear from a court`s written decision what constitutes obiter dicta and what is ratio decidendi, but it is essential to know which parts of the decision constitute binding precedents. To support this provision, American jurist Eugene Wambaugh proposed what is now called the Wambaugh inversion test. This test indicates that the following question is asked about suspect parties: Would the decision have been different if the statement had been omitted? If the answer is yes, then this statement is an essential element of the decision and therefore ratio decidendi. When a written opinion of the court is issued, it contains two elements: (1) ratio decidendi and (2) obiter dicta. Ratio decidendi is the Latin term meaning « the reason for the decision » and refers to statements about critical facts and the law of the case. These are crucial to the decision of the court itself. Obiter dicta are additional observations, remarks and opinions on other matters of the judge. These often explain the reasons for the court`s decision and, while they may provide guidance in similar cases in the future, they are not binding. The Latin term obiter dicta means « things which, incidentally, are said » and is generally used in law to refer to an opinion or useless remark made by a judge. In a court decision rendered by a higher court, the decision itself becomes a binding precedent.
Remarks about how the court made its decision are not binding, and that is what the term refers to. To explore this concept, consider the following obiter dicta definition. Similar to obiter is the concept of semble (French Norman for « it seems »). In Simpkins v Pays (1955), a grandmother, granddaughter and tenant participated in weekly contests in the Sunday Empire News. Each week, the three women made a prognosis together and contributed to the cost of admission; But it was the grandmother`s name that was on the right one. The grandmother received £750 in prizes and refused to share it with the other two. The subtenant successfully sued for one-third of the price; but Judge Sellers added that the granddaughter was also to receive £250, although she was not involved in the action. The arguments and reasoning of a dissenting judgment (as used in the United Kingdom and Australia) or a dissenting opinion (a term used by courts in the United States) are also obiter dicta.
However, these could also be invoked if a court finds that its earlier decision was erroneous, as when the U.S. Supreme Court cited the dissent of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in Hammer v. Dagenhart, when he overthrew Hammer in United States v. Darby Lumber Co. When reading a court decision, obiter dicta can be recognized by words such as « introduced by analogy » or « by way of illustration ». Obiter dicta can be as short as a brief remark or hypothetical example, or as long as a thorough discussion of the relevant law. In both cases, the additional information is provided to provide context for the court opinion. In other cases, the obiter dicta may propose an interpretation of the law which has no bearing on the present case, but which could be useful in future cases.  The most notable example of such an event is the story of the famous footnote 4 of United States v. Carolene Products Co. (1938), which, while opposing the use of the due process clause to block most laws, suggested that the clause could be used to remove laws dealing with « fundamental rights » issues.
It is generally believed that this obiter dictum led to the doctrine of rigorous examination (and subsequently intermediate examination) in cases of racial, religious and sexual discrimination, first enunciated in Korematsu v. the United States (1944). Korematsu v. The United States itself was condemned by the same court in obiter dictum in Trump v. Hawaii (2018). The obiter dicta of the U.S. Supreme Court can have an influence.      An example in the history of the Supreme Court is Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co. in 1886. A flippant remark by Chief Justice Morrison R.
Waite, recorded by the court reporter before the hearing, now forms the basis of the doctrine that corporations are entitled to protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. Whether or not Chief Justice Waite`s remark sets a binding precedent is debatable, but subsequent judgments treat it as such. 2 definitions found for this term. Definitions are listed in the order in which the source books were published (last first).