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Numbers and the law

Published: Saturday, July 12, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

The lowly No. 1 makes a big difference.

Much has been said and printed about the two recent, 5-4, Supreme Court decisions. The issues were certainly important to the plaintiffs, and the court’s decision ultimately will have a bearing on the enforcement and application of federal laws affecting countless citizens.

Much of what was reported in the media about these cases presented numerous quotes and interpretations concerning the majority’s opinion.

Conversely, the media barely reported on the dissenting opinion, as though it had no value or didn’t even exist.

Surely the dissenting justices had something to say based on their knowledge and experience regarding similar complex matters. News coverage following the current cases regarding dissenting opinions was at a minimum.

Legal opinions offered by Supreme Court justices, whether in support of or in opposition to a point of law, don’ t make for casual bedtime reading. They are complex, interesting, profound, thoughtful and meaningful. Consider the fact that the opinion of only one justice determines whether the plaintiff’s plea is approved or not approved. The one vote in a 5-4 decision makes a huge difference.

Four justices who comprise minority opinions are not flawed in their legal opinions. They were just one vote short in support of their professional judgment. Any decision short of a unanimous decision faces the same consequence.

Objectivity? Who is right?

That one decision by one judge takes on considerable importance.

Jim Darow


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