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NCJ Number: 157504 Find in a Library
Title: Justice Brennan and the Institutionalization of Dissent Assignment
Journal: Judicature  Volume:79  Issue:1  Dated:(July-August 1995)  Pages:17-23
Author(s): B B Cook
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 7
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The formal assignment of dissenting opinions is a recently but now formally established practice in the United States Supreme Court and one for which Justice William Brennan was largely responsible. ABST The practice of assigning majority opinions dates back to the Marshall Court, but the practice of assigning dissenting opinions is a recent development. The first published reference to the practice was in 1987. The institutionalization of the assignment of dissenting opinions required the recognition of dissent as a legitimate option. Today, a dissent unaccompanied by reasoning is rare. The senior justice in the minority assigns dissenting opinions. Responsibility for the firm establishment of this practice belongs to Justice Brennan, who stated his duty clearly in a 1979 memorandum to Justice Lewis Powell. Brennan favored consensus among the dissenters and tried to identify the writer who would preserve the coalition. He also kept in mind the need to make a fair distribution of the workload and to give recognition to a particular justice's interests and precedential writings. The dissent assignment practice indicates that the Court's normative structure now includes a competitive norm, a fundamental feature of other political institutions in the United States. Footnotes
Main Term(s): US Supreme Court decisions
Index Term(s): Judges; US Supreme Court
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