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Old 04-26-2012, 03:30 PM
Kimmy_Gibbler Kimmy_Gibbler is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 3,712
So, I consulted the sources cited in the SSR and went down the rabbit hole of "Why do you advance in age on the day before your birthday?"

Originally Posted by United States v. Wright, 197 F. 297 (8th Cir. 1912)
The law ordinarily taking no cognizance of fractions of days, one becomes of full age the first moment of the day before his twenty-first anniversary.
Originally Posted by State v. Clarke, 3 Del. (3 Harr.) 557, 18 WL 3673 (1840)
To ascertain when a man is legally “of the age of twenty-one years,” we must have reference to the common law, and those legal decisions which from time immemorial have settled this matter, in reference to all the important affairs of life. When can a person make a valid will; when can he execute a deed for land; when make any contract or do any act which a man may do, and an infant, that is, a person under the age of twenty-one years, cannot do? On this question the law is well settled; it admits of no doubt. A person is “of the age of twenty-one years” the day before the twenty-first anniversary of his birth day. It is not necessary that he shall have entered upon his birth day, or he would be more than twenty-one years old. He is, therefore, of age the day before the anniversary of his birth; and, as the law takes no notice of fractions of a day, he is necessarily of age the whole of the day before his twenty-first birth day; and upon any and every moment of that day may do any act which any man may lawfully do. (1 Chit. Gen. Prac. 766.) “It is to be observed, that a person becomes of age on the first instant of the last day of the twenty-first year next before the anniversary of his birth; thus, if a person were born at any hour of the 1st of January, A. D., 1801, (even a few minutes before 12 o'clock of the night of that day,) he would be of full age at the first instant of the 31st of December, A. D. 1821, although nearly forty-eight hours before he had actually attained the full age of twenty one, according to years, days, hours and minutes; because there is not in law in this respect any fraction of a day; and it is the same whether a thing is done, upon one moment of the day or another.”
Originally Posted by Wells v. Wells, 6 Ind. 447, 1855 WL 3723 (1855)
If from this statement we fix his birth-day at September 23, 1828, he was of age [twenty-one years as of] September 22, 1849.
Originally Posted by Hamlin v. Stevenson, 34 Ky. (4 Dana) 597, 1836 WL 2122 (1836)
A person is of full age on the day preceding the 21st anniversary of his birth.
Neither Wells v. Wells nor Hamlin v. Stevenson cite any authority or furnish any rationale for the holding.

The authority cited in State v. Clarke does note that this rule might allow someone to attain age 21 up to nearly forty-eight hours before the actual elapse of twenty-one full years from the instant of his birth. But adhering to the premise that the law treats fractions of days as immaterial, "it is the same whether a thing is done, upon one moment of the day or another." This doesn't really answer why an age is attained on the day before one's birthday, but it does sound appropriately sententious for a nineteenth century court.

The SSR also cites another case Frost v. State, 45 So. 203 (Ala. 1907), which was overruled by the same Supreme Court of Alabama eight years later in Graves v. Eubank, 87 So. 587 (Ala. 1921):

. . . [A] majority in each instance were of the opinion that Frost did not become 45 years of age prior to the time the tax became due, October 1, 1906. He was born October 2, 1861, and by excluding his birthday, which was conceded to be proper in the opinion as well as the briefs in said case, he did not become 45 years old before the tax became due, October 1st, but on the day that it became due. In other words, he was 45 years of age the day the tax was due, and going upon the theory that but one day could be excluded, he was not 45 before the tax became due and was not therefore exempt from the payment of same; and there was some reason for feeling that the right result had been reached in said case, notwithstanding the unsoundness of the reason given for same. Upon a reconsideration of this Frost Case, however, we are not only of the opinion that the reasoning of same was properly overturned in the two later cases, but it should have been expressly overruled. Under the law as applicable, Frost was 45 years of age October 1, 1906, the day the tax fell due, and if the Constitution exempted those over 45, he would have been liable; but upon a closer analysis of section 194 of the Constitution, we are of the opinion that it is the fixation of a tax on certain ones and not an exemption. In other words, it places a tax on those “over age of 21 years and under 45 years of age.” Frost on October 1, 1906, was 45 years of age and not “under the age of 45” as fixed by the Constitution. We therefore expressly overrule said case of Frost v. State, 153 Ala. 654, 45 South. 203.
Honestly, I not sure what the hell is going on in this, except it does seem that they did not overrule the day-before-your-birthday aspect of the case.

But holy shit, this is a lot of litigation on what seems to be a not very complicated question.