Identify and explain the different types of opinions that are delivered by the Supreme Court.
There are three different kinds of opinions that the Supreme Court can produce following any given case. These are the majority, concurring, and dissenting opinions. The majority and dissenting opinions are produced in every case, and the concurring opinion is not always required or present. The majority opinion is typically authored by the justice with the most seniority in the majority opinion. This means that if the chief justice were to find him or herself in the majority, then that justice will create the majority opinion. However, if the chief justice is not in the majority of an opinion, then the senior-most justice in the majority typically pens the opinion. There are also occasions when the task of the majority opinion is passed off to another judge. This typically occurs when that judge has a special expertise or insight on the specific case that makes his or her opinion more impactful.
Just as the majority opinion seeks to explain the reasoning and though behind the court’s decision, the dissenting opinion does the same to express the thoughts of the judges who voting not with the majority. These opinions are crucial because they give a philosophical context to the decision-making of the judges throughout the process. This is important to the extent that even judges that vote in the majority can author a concurring opinion that explains how he or she specifically came to the opinion of the majority if it does not follow the same line of thinking as the majority opinion.