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Saturday, January 02, 2021

Opinion Announcement Practice in the Supreme Court

The traditional practice in the Supreme Court was that the entire opinion in a case was read in open court by the Justice who wrote the decision. Typically, separate opinions were also read aloud. Thus, the Justices spent a lot of time just sitting on the bench to either deliver opinions or hear them being delivered. At some point, this practice changed into the modern (pre-pandemic) version, in which the author just summarizes the decision or reads a portion and a dissent is only occasionally read from the bench.

I'm not clear when the practice changed. An example of the old style is described in The New York Times story on the announcement of the decision in Youngstown. The article states that the Justices read their opinions in the Steel Seizure Case for two-and a-half-hours. Justice Frankfurter (not surprisingly) took 30 minutes to deliver his concurrence. Granted, Youngstown was unusual in that there were many long separate opinions and the Chief Justice was in dissent. I'm also not sure if the Court made an exception by reading all the opinions or whether that was still the norm in all argued cases in 1952. Maybe the change came under Earl Warren.

Posted by Gerard Magliocca on January 2, 2021 at 08:44 AM | Permalink


No wonder indeed. It is a ruling of above 130 pages (Youngstown). So, maybe that was indeed the turning point. Although there are cases of more than 130 pages. I shall check it out.

Here by the way to Youngstown, very important ruling per se:


Posted by: El roam | Jan 2, 2021 9:54:09 AM

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