Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Deciding When to Decide

Professor Aaron Bruhl poses this hypo on PrawfsBlawg:

"Suppose you are a judge on the court of appeals.  The case before you concerns some rule or doctrine from a thirty-year-old case, X v. Y.  A couple of months ago, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in a case that also concerns the rule in X v. Y.  You are almost certain the Supreme Court will repudiate X v. Y.  (Perhaps last year the Court harshly criticized the old rule in considered dicta and suggested it was ripe for overruling in an appropriate case.)  What should you do?"

He implies you face an unenviable choice between (1) disregarding existing precedent and (2) applying doomed law, and suggests you consider avoiding the choice by (3) waiting to decide until the Supreme Court speaks.

He analyzes the pros and cons of all three options in his forthcoming paper.