|Legal and |
In law, a majority opinion is a judicial opinion agreed to by more than half of the members of a court. A majority opinion sets forth the decision of the court and an explanation of the rationale behind the court's decision.
Not all cases have a majority opinion. At times, the justices voting for a majority decision (e.g., to affirm or reverse the lower court's decision) may have drastically different reasons for their votes, and cannot agree on the same set of reasons. In that situation, several concurring opinions may be written, none of which is the view of a majority of the members of the court. Therefore, the concurring opinion joined by the greatest number of judges is referred to as the plurality opinion.
Normally, appellate courts (or panels) are staffed with an odd number of judges to avoid a tie. Sometimes, and in some jurisdictions, when judicial positions are vacant or a judge has recused themselves from the case, the court may be stuck with a tie, in which case the lower court's decision will be affirmed without comment by an equally divided court.
A majority opinion in countries which use the common law system becomes part of the body of case law.
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