May 30, 2017 Articles

The Second Lives of Powerful Dissents

In America, even a single court may be divided against itself—and, at its most memorable times, usually is.

By Robert A. O’Donnell and Lara Grillo – May 30, 2017

One of the most characteristic and eccentric features of Anglo-American law is its willingness to speak with many voices. In America, even a single court may be divided against itself—and, at a court's most memorable times, usually is. A judge may dissent not merely in chambers, not merely before his or her peers, but openly in a published screed that necessarily accompanies the court’s pronouncement of law.

This article will discuss several aspects of dissenting opinions as well as consider how prior dissenting opinions will come into play in the wake of Justice Gorsuch’s elevation to the Supreme Court.

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