There are 166 volumes of Massachusetts reports, 165 volumes of United States Supreme Court reports, and hundreds and thousands of reports of other States. Every year adds to the reports of the Courts of this country about 250 volumes and about sixty volumes of text-books. 'Words, words, words.' Ben Butler to the contrary notwithstanding, all of these words are law unless they have been pronounced obiter dicta .
...ad doctrinam huiusmodi copiosius a perpluribus dicta auctoribus, et praecipue ab his quos mater educavit Graecia, Latinorum cogente penuria, . . . transferenda conferamarchbishop of salerno alfano i
In pertusum ingerimus dicta dolium, operam ludimus.
Speaking for myself, I do not pay much attention to the dicta of modern Judges, as I consider it my duty to decide for myself. This, of course, does not apply to decisions of modern Judges, nor to old recognised dicta by eminent Judges.
In the books there are some loose dicta that an Act of Parliament and the common law should respectively stand as originals according to the circumstances of the case; but this is not law, unless it be confined to prohibitions for excess of jurisdiction and to restrain waste. Heath, J., Jefferson v. Bishop of Durham (1797), 2 Bos. & Pull. 129.
I believe that obiter dicta , like the proverbial chickens of destiny, come home to roost sooner or later in a very uncomfortable way to the Judges who have uttered them, and are a great source of embarrassment in future cases.