Bright-line rule

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A bright-line rule (or bright-line test) is a clearly defined rule or standard, generally used in law, composed of objective factors, which leaves little or no room for varying interpretation. The purpose of a bright-line rule is to produce predictable and consistent results in its application. This is in contrast to its opposite, the fine line.

Bright-line rules are usually standards established by courts in legal precedent or by legislatures in statutory provisions. Bright-line rules are often contrasted with balancing tests, where a result is dependent on weighing several factors, which could lead to inconsistent application of law or reduce objectivity.

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Debate in the US

In the United States, there is much scholarly legal debate between those favoring bright-line rules and those favoring balancing tests. While some legal scholars, such as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, have expressed a strong preference for bright-line rules, critics often argue that bright-line rules are over-simplistic and can lead to harsh and unjust results. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer noted that there are circumstances in which the application of bright-line rules would be inappropriate, stating that "no single set of legal rules can ever capture the ever changing complexity of human life."[1] Over the course of the last three decades, many bright-line rules previously established in U.S. jurisprudence have been replaced with balancing tests.[citation needed]

Example of a bright-line rule

Notable cases containing bright-line rules

References

  1. ^ Georgia v. Randolph, 547 U.S. 103, 125, 126 S. Ct. 1515, 1529, 164 L. Ed. 2d 208, 229 (2006) (Breyer, J., concurring).
  2. ^ Statutory Rape Laws by State
  3. ^ Amir H. Ali, Following the Bright-Line of Michigan v. Summers, 45 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 483 (2010)

External links