Lee Davis: Legal Word Of The Day - Obiter Dictum

Monday, August 25, 2014

Obiter dictum is something that is said in passing.  It is an observation or opinion of the court but one not necessary to the decision at hand.  It is sometimes a persuasive point but not relevant to the issue decided.

Mr. Chief Justice Taney writing for the Supreme Court in Dred Scott v. Sanford—one of the greatest travesties in American history--stated: ‘this court has decided against the jurisdiction of the circuit court…and if anything it may say upon that part of the case will be extra-judicial, and mere obiter dicta.” Dred Scott brought a lawsuit for his freedom in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Missouri. He received a verdict in his favor, but this decision was deemed obiter dicta because a black person in 1856 was not recognized as a citizen of the United States.

 The obiter dictum in Dred Scott became the basis for the XIV Amendment ratified on July 9, 1868.  “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and any of the State wherein they reside.  No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person visits in its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

 Obiter dictum is pronounced (ob-i-ter dik-tem)

Lee Davis
Davis & Hoss, PC
508 East 5th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403



Chattanooga Chamber Calendar Of Events March 26

TUESDAY, MARCH 27   Reality Check at Howard High School 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Howard High School : 2500 Market St Reality Check teaches ninth graders budgeting and emphasizes the connection between education and income by ... (click for more)

Tennessee American Water’s Annual Water Quality Report Available Online

Tennessee American Water announces that the company’s 2017 Consumer Confidence Reports (Water Quality Reports) are available to customers online.  In addition, Tennessee American Water has once again earned the Directors Award through the Partnership for Safe Water, marking the 18th consecutive year the utility has achieved this level of surpassing standards.  The annual ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Council Debating Future Of Mountain Center; Vice Mayor Gee Goes Off Council After Marrying And Moving Out Of Town Limits

A discussion regarding the Mountain Arts Community Center lease and memorandum of agreement with a non- profit organization that has been formed with a proposed to manage it took place at the Signal Mountain town council meeting Friday afternoon. City Manager Boyd Veal had created a document for the purpose of starting a discussion and to identify how the council would like to move ... (click for more)

Students OK After Bag Containing Meth Found At Nolan Elementary

Officials say students at Nolan Elementary School on Signal Mountain are okay after discovering a bag that contained meth. The incident happened on Friday afternoon during a reading fair.  Principal Dr. Shane Harwood sent this message to parents: "Good Afternoon Nolan Families - We wanted to share some information related to an event that has taken ... (click for more)

Food Trucks Steal From Property And Rent-Paying Eateries - And Response

According to minutes of the City Council’s  Economic Development Committee and several local news articles, Chattanooga’s City Attorney gave a food truck presentation. He explained to City Council that a new food truck ordinance was being drafted to allow use of mobile food trucks on public  property . He said Chattanooga’s current ordinance limited food trucks to parking ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

I don’t make much of a secret that I hated every single second of the short time I spent in college or that I never took a journalism class. Instead what I know about writing was taught by a far greater collection of experts than you can find on any college campus. Andy Rooney, for example, was a genius with a dry humor who lectured to me almost every Sunday night for about 30 years. ... (click for more)