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

Abstract

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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