Majority opinion

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Legal and judicial opinions

Judicial opinions & aggregates for official decisions (O.S-Federal)

Majority opinion
Dissenting opinion
Plurality opinion
Concurring opinion
Memorandum opinion
Per curiam opinion
Seriatim opinion

In law, a majority opinion is a judicial opinion agreed to by more than half of the members of a court.[1] A majority opinion becomes the decision of the court in a matter. It also gives an explanation of the reasons for the court's decision.[2]

Decisions[change | change source]

A dissenting opinion is an opinion written by one or more judges expressing disagreement with the majority opinion of the court. Very similar to a majority opinion is a plurality opinion.[3] In this instance, a majority of Justices agree on the result of a case, but do not all agree on the reasons for the result.[3]

In the United States Supreme Court, a majority of the Justices have to agree with all of the contents of the Court's opinion before it can be published.[4] In a few cases, after reading drafts of the opinions, Justices may switch their votes and what was the minority opinion becomes the majority opinion.[4] No opinion is considered official until it is read in open court or made available publicly.[4]

Tie votes[change | change source]

Normally, appellate courts (or panels) are staffed with an odd number of judges to avoid a tie vote. Sometimes and in some jurisdictions, when judicial positions are vacant or a judge has recused (excuse) himself or herself from the case, the court may be stuck with a tie. In this situation the decision of the lower Court stands.[4]

References[change | change source]

  1. "How to Read a U.S. Supreme Court Opinion" (PDF). American Bar Association. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  2. Martin Kelly. "Majority Opinion". About Education. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 James F. Spriggs II; David R. Stras, 'Explaining Plurality Decisions', The Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 99:515 (2011), p. 515
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Supreme Court Procedures". United States Courts. Retrieved 2 March 2016.

Other websites[change | change source]