Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Power of Oral Dissents

The New York Times reports that dissenting from the bench is on the rise. With Justice Ginsburg holding the record for most oral dissents, other justices have stepped up to add a little more sarcastic flavor to their written dissents. Is this just a way to stick it to the majority, or is it because justices feel so passionately against the court's holding that they must outwardly express their displeasure?

The article mentions that some of the more prominent oral dissents were in cases such as Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. and Stenberg v. Carhart, which, in Ledbetter's case, led to Congress passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act essentially overturning the original ruling. Maybe these oral dissents are a call to other sources to help overturn majority decisions when the justices themselves cannot get the votes. Then again, maybe it really is the political minority on the bench staking its claim and fighting back as aggressively as it can.

8 comments:

  1. Interesting. Are oral dissents read publicly?

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  2. I believe they are read in the court and then reported on extensively. It seems that because it is a rare occurrence, any newspaper or press release will especially mention that there was a dissent from the bench.

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  3. I think it's a function of the frustration from the Court's minority as the Court's becoming more polarized and the justices entrench themselves behind ideological lines. I wonder if the public awareness it raises will influence peoples' perceptions of the Court and maybe become a factor when deciding who to vote for.

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  4. I think it's great resource. It seems that because it is a rare occurrence, any newspaper or press release will especially mention that there was a dissent from the bench.


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