Announcing of the rule of law

Rule:

What

rule of law is announced in the case?  A court first must announce a specific

controlling principle of law (e.g. the court’s interpretation of a constitutional provision, NOT the

constitutional provision itself!) that applies to the issue in the case.  This is also the abstract, general legal

principle that will be applied to all future cases involving this issue, using this case as a precedent, and it is

important to understand under what factual circumstances the rule applies.  Often the court will usually

explain why the rule is being created or applied, such as the origin of the rule, or the policy behind the rule

existing, and also will often explain why any alternative rules proposed by the parties or the dissenting

justices are being rejected.  Here the court usually looks at the words of a constitutional or statutory

provision, the original intent behind that law, and public policy arguments. These are not the rule itself, but

the explanation of, or justification for, the rule

.  You must quote precisely the actual rule itself

(but not the

explanation for the rule) that the court finally adopts and decides to apply; the actual wording of the rule

itself is known as the “black letter law.”  The rule itself

must

be quoted because

every

word matters: there is

a

huge

difference between “a” and “the” or between “may” and “must” etc. But the justification for the rule

should be primarily in

your own words

.

B.

Application:

How

does the rule of law specifically apply given the specific facts of the case at

issue?  In other words, given the rule of law that should apply, which party wins according to that rule

given the facts of the case being heard? The reasoning of the court here should consider the facts of the case,

and might analogize or distinguish the facts of the current case to the facts of earlier similar or related

cases.  You should explain all this

in your own words

, quoting only an occasional word or phrase.

Concurring Opinion(s) Reasoning

: What is the reasoning of each separate concurrence (justices who

agreed with the majority’s holding but disagreed with the majority’s reasoning)?  How do they differ in

their proposed rule or application (or both)?

Dissenting Opinion(s) Reasoning:

What is the reasoning of each separate dissent (justices who disagreed

with both the majority’s holding and its reasoning)? How do they differ in their proposed rule or application

(or both)?

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