Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Duty of Lower Courts to “Follow Both the Words and the Music of Supreme Court Opinions” — Good Quote


United States v. Martinez-Cruz, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 24084 (D.C. Cir. Dec. 3, 2013) (Kavanaugh, Circuit Judge, dissenting):

As a lower court in a system of absolute vertical stare decisis headed by one Supreme Court, it is essential that we follow both the words and the music of Supreme Court opinions. This case is controlled by at least the music, if not also the words, of the Supreme Court's decision in Parke v. Raley, 506 U.S. 20, 113 S. Ct. 517, 121 L. Ed. 2d 391 (1992). There, the Supreme Court made clear that the defendant in a recidivist sentencing proceeding may be assigned the burden of proof when challenging the constitutionality of a prior conviction that is being used to enhance or determine the current sentence. Consistent with Parke v. Raley, every court of appeals to consider the question has reached that same conclusion. By ruling otherwise here, the majority opinion, in my view, both deviates from Supreme Court precedent and creates an unwarranted circuit split.

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