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Definition of Binding Authority

The binding authority or binding precedent is the existing law that the judge must evaluate when making a decision in a case. For example, a lower court in the same jurisdiction of a higher court must follow the applicable holding of the higher court. Binding authority follows the doctrine of stare decisis, which means ?stand by the decision.' Most states within the United States follow a common law system of law.

Additionally, under Article VI of the Constitution, the Supremacy Clause, all laws made pursuant to the Constitution are considered the supreme law of the land. These laws are legally superior over other laws and over conflicting state laws or constitutional provisions. This means judges in every state must follow the Constitution, laws, and treatises of the Federal Government. If laws or behaviors at the state level interfere or are in conflict with federal law a federal court may require the state to stop these actions. It is important that U.S. citizens understand the broad powers of the Federal Government especially as they relate to discrimination, bankruptcy, federal taxation and immigration.

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