Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Document Type



The Dissent and Its Change is a historical look at a few of the men who have had an important impact on the United States Supreme Court. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes is best known for his many dissenting opinions while on the Supreme Court. He was one of the first Justices to give the dissenting opinion legitimacy and to make it into a powerful force that can change the law. Justice Holmes spent much of his thirty-year term on the Supreme Court dissenting against the use ofthe Fourteenth Amendment to invalidate laws passed by state and federal legislatures. In the end, Holmes' view and his dissent prevailed. Beginning in 1941, Justice Harlan Fisk Stone served as ChiefJustice of the Supreme Court. Once in this position, Stone made the Court a body that encouraged individual Justices to express their opinions even when they were not the opinions of the majority. During Stone's five years as Chief Justice, the rate at which there was dissension more than doubled. Through the esteem placed on the dissent by these and other Justices, it has continued to be used with astounding frequency. The dissent has stood as an assurance that the Supreme Court remains a body open to disagreement All of the men and women that serve in this powerful collegial court are insured the chance to let their deference with the majority be known to all The dissent has been responsible for keeping the Supreme Court in check and assuring that our Court is run by the Constitution and laws of the country, not by the men and women that wear the black robes.


Legal | Political History | United States History