One reason dissenting opinions are significant is theyA. may have a lasting impact if the Court later changes its mind.B. allow a justice to support the majority but for a different reason than in...

One reason dissenting opinions are significant is they
A. may have a lasting impact if the Court later changes its mind.
B. allow a justice to support the majority but for a different reason than in the majority opinion.
C. are usually written by the chief justice.
D. explain why the court ruled contrary to public opinion on the issue.
E. establish the common law while the majority opinions establish constitutional law.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The correct answer to this question is Option A.  Dissenting opinions can become important later on if the Court decides to go back on what they said before and to agree with what was said in the dissent.

When the Court makes a decision, any justice can write an opinion.  One justice is assigned to write the majority opinion.  That is the official decision for the Court.  However, a justice may write a concurring opinion, where they agree with the result of the case but want to give a different line of reasoning than the majority opinion.  This is what Option B is talking about so it is wrong. 

Justices can also write dissenting opinions.  Any justice can write one, not just the Chief Justice, so Option C is wrong.  Dissenting opinions disagree with the result of the case and say why they disagree.  They have nothing to do with whether the Court is agreeing with public opinion (so Option D is wrong) or with the common law (so Option E is wrong).  Instead, they can later become relevant if the Court decides in the future to change its mind and go with the reasoning given in the dissent.

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