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The "opinion of the Court" is synonymous with the Court's decision. The Opinion gives the verdict and explains the reasoning behind the decision reached. The privilege of writing the official opinion falls to the most senior justice in the majority group, or to the Chief Justice if he voted with the majority; this person may choose to write the opinion, or may assign the task to another member of the majority.

If the justices who voted against the majority wish to issue a unified dissenting opinion, they decide amongst themselves who will author the opinion, then the others, if in agreement, will "join" the opinion.

Individual justices may write their own opinions, regardless of whether they agree with the majority. Justices may also "join" or sign any other written opinion they agree with. This generally strengthens the opinion.

All published opinions except for Per Curiam decisions may be used as precedent in future litigation.



For more information about Supreme Court opinions, see Related Links, below.

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Q: How are US Supreme Court written opinions assigned?
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