Are United States Court of Appeals decisions nationally binding?

Or do they only apply to their respective geographical regions.

Same for United States District Courts’.

USCA decisions are generally binding only on the district courts within their circuits (and the circuit court itself until it overrules its own precedent).

District court decisions bind only the parties before them; they have no precedential effect.

Is there a law of congress or judicial rule specifying either? Also, are they only binding on federal district courts? Meaning, would a 9th circuit decision still hold in a Hawaii state court? What about in a Indiana state court?

And, if a Nebraska resident in a federal district court wanted to cite a 9th circuit ruling, he’s pretty much out of luck?

Inferior federal courts were created by Congress. Only the Supreme Court is provided for in the federal constitution. Inferior federal courts generally don’t review state court decisions (with certain exceptions). Federal district courts do have what’s called diversity jurisdiction–meaning they decide state-law cases between parties who are from different states. A Nebraska litigant (8th Circuit, off the top of my head) can cite anything he wants to, but a Ninth Circuit decision will be only persuasive, and not controlling, authority.

You can cite anything you want. Judges can decide whether to follow other circuits’ precedents or not.

If two circuits disagree, then the Supreme Court gets to decide whether to make one binding precedent.

Decisions about federal laws are binding in all states covered by that court. Decisions about federal law may or may not impact on state laws, depending on specific circumstances.

Sorry, but those are really general questions.

Where the 14th amendment is disputed, inferior federal courts definitely have jurisdiction and the capacity to reverse state courts’ decisions if appropriate, correct?

Federal courts have the power to reverse state courts’ decisions where there is a federal question. If you can’t make an argument that the state court’s decision should be reversed because of a question of federal law, then the federal court will tell you to that they don’t have jurisdiction, and go get stuffed.

In the case of the 14th Amendment, the Due Process clause is often used to argue against procedural aspects of state courts, and the federal courts have used it to “incorporate” much of the Bill of Rights to apply to state government also.

Plus, the federal district court has to have been given jurisdiction by statute to review the decision of a state court. They don’t automatically have it, and if they do, it’s subject to amendment by a statute passed by Congress.

For instance, it used to be that the habeas jurisdiction of the federal district courts was very broad, and could be used to review state court criminal convictions. Congress some years ago amended the law relating to federal habeas applications, so that the federal district courts do not have such broad jurisdiction.

In the absence of a SCOTUS ruling, a Federal circuit (appeals) couirt’s decisions do produce binding precedent for state courts within its geographic ambit, as well as the lower federal courts in that area. For example, suppose a Circuit Court rules on the admissibility of a record of texting conversation, in response to a 4th/5th Amendment challenge. In a later state case in a state within that circuit, a record of texting is offered as evidence. The Federal precedent would be binding.

Since they were created separate, each circuit has its own set of precedents.
Doesn’t the segmentation hamper judicial objectivity because a 9th circuit judges used logical, legal reasoning to decide a case and an 8th circuit judge can rule in a totally different way on what may be the same issue, thus subjecting Nebraska and Hawaii’s residents to different standards.

Has any publicized (nonSCOTUS) litigation succeeded in citing from a different circuit, or is there usually a counterpart in one’s own circuit?

The usual way is one district courts say “A” and another says “B” and the case makes it to the Supreme Court which decides.

However there have been times where you have conficting opinions and the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case at all. When the Supreme Court does this, ti has the effect of letting both decisions stands, this isn’t the norm but it has happened. I’ll see if I can get some “for instances,” for you

That’s assuming that logical, legal reasoning is (a) the only basis for legal decisions and (b) can only have one result. I’m not sure what you mean by that phrase “logical, legal reasoning”, but decisions are made on a wide variety of reasons, many practical and policy oriented. The current debate and relevant rulings on health care is an excellent example.

It can create problems for there to be conflicting rulings at a circuit level, but generally, they are viewed as a reflection of regional priorities and differences on hot-button and yet to be determined by higher court cases. The variety of rulings also provide a rich background of legal thought and considerations for when certain issues move onto higher courts.

Briefs and other arguments consistently cite cases from other circuits. This is particularly helpful when one’s own circuit has not made a ruling on a particular issue and the person writing the brief is trying to convince the judge to rule in a specific way.

It would not be relevant if a superior court in your circuit/district had already ruled on the issue, and many courts would be annoyed at citing law outside of the relevant circuit/district on an issue that’s already been adjudicated.

Generally speaking, most law isn’t decided by the Supreme Court, mostly because the Supreme Court agrees to look at only a small number of cases each year. Although these do tend to include the most important constitutional interpretation cases, many others are narrow cases that make it there for a variety of reasons.

The number of cases that get heard by the thirteen circuit courts (11 areas plus the DC circuit and the Federal circuit) is obviously far higher. By sheer numbers they create a lot of law.

And each circuit gets a reputation for deciding certain types of cases in certain ways. My understanding is that the 9th Circuit gets disproportionately overturned by the current Supreme Court because of their differing [del]political[/del] judicial philosophies. Objectivity in law is a myth. The fact that most decisions are not unanimous should tell you instantly that no one path to a decision can possibly exist. Logic, precedence, philosophy, facts, politics, biases, prejudices, and mood all play their parts in every decision. And will as long as judges stay human.

I don’t see why you would think so. Every position has a logical, legal argument behind it.

That’s why there’s a Supreme Court to resolved these differences when the court believes it’s important to do so.

There is very often no binding precedent. Litigants cite to other circuits’ decisions all the time.

I’ll offer up an a question of law that has been decided differently by different circuits, and has some real-world interest behind it – and is one we’ve discussed here:

May the government, without a warrant, track a car’s movements over time via GPS?

The argument for ‘yes:’ a car’s movements on a public street are entitled to no particular expectation of privacy. When you drive around town, anyone can see you. You cannot, then, claim that your movements are private and protected by the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment. So police can use a GPS unit to track your movements, since (as long as you’re driving around on public streets) they’re getting precisely the same information that they would by following you, for which they obviously don’t need a warrant either.

The argument for ‘no:’ any given trip is public, yes. But when you add all the information about all your trips together, you get more than each single trip. That is, it’s true that random people on the street may see you drive by on Monday, and different random people may see you drive by on Tuesday, and so forth. But no one single person is privy to all your trips. The totality of your travel information creates a “mosaic,” a picture that isn’t obvious just by looking at its individual pieces. People have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the “mosaic” even though they don’t have an expectation of privavcy in any individual piece of the mosaic.

The DC circuit has refused to permit GPS surveillance data obtained without a warrant be used against an accused, accepting the argument that it’s a Fourth Amendment violation. Other federal circuits have adopted the reasoning that since each trip is public, there is no expectation of privacy for any of the data concerning those trips.

So right now, federal constitutional law in the DC circuit says that non-warrant GPS data is inadmissible, and in the rest of the country federal constitutional law says its admissible.