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LAW 499 | U.S. Supreme Court

Professor Philip Benesch.

What are....?

An opinion is a statement prepared by a judge or court that announces the decision after a case is tried. 

Opinions include a summary of the facts; applicable laws, and how they relate to the facts; rationale to support the decision; a judgement.

Image source:  Wikimedia Commons.  Swatjester. CC-BY-SA-2.0. 


Opinion Life Cycle

The Supreme Court's opinions go through several generations--or stages--of publication.

"On days that opinions are announced by the Court from the bench, the text of each opinion is made available immediately to the public and the press in a printed form called a "bench opinion."

"Several days after an opinion is announced by the Court, it is printed in a 6" x 9" self-cover pamphlet called a "slip opinion." Each slip opinion consists of the majority or plurality opinion, any concurring or dissenting opinions, and the syllabus. It may [also] contain corrections..."

"...Brown, soft-cover "advance pamphlets" that contain, in addition to the opinions themselves, all of the announcements, ½ tables, indexes, and other features that make up the U.S. Reports.  The contents of two or three preliminary prints will eventually be combined into a single bound volume."

"The fourth and final generation of opinion publication is the casebound set of law books entitled United States Reports."