On 'A Ticket Good for One Day Only'

16 Green Bag 2D 155

12 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2013

See all articles by Richard M. Re

Richard M. Re

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: February 22, 2013


Almost every lawyer has heard the commonplace that one legal decision or another is “a ticket good for one day only.” This metaphor captures the idea that a decision lacks precedential value: it is here today, but gone before tomorrow’s train. The metaphor is powerful because the idea of a one-day-only precedent is almost always viewed with derision. A legal principle, if sound, is expected to survive the day it was decided and to last far into the future – perhaps even forever. The “one-day ticket” metaphor has itself passed that test, persisting in American legal culture for nearly 80 years. Over its long career, the expression has been put to a variety of uses by jurists of every ideological bent, and each usage has its own lessons and ironies.

Keywords: precedent, stare decisis, rhetoric

Suggested Citation

Re, Richard M., On 'A Ticket Good for One Day Only' (February 22, 2013). 16 Green Bag 2D 155, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2222636

Richard M. Re (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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