Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Leadership Studies


The right of an individual to dissent from the ideas of his or her peers, or even his or her government, has been one of the defining characteristics of American civil society. The United States itself was founded as a result of American colonists' dissenting from the British government, and our Constitution established a governmental system that would not only accommodate, but encourage a process of deliberative democracy in which the views of both the many and the few would be taken into account and considered thoroughly. A system of internal checks and balances between the legislative, judicial and executive branches, the balance of federal and state power, as well as the public accountability of each branch and its members, have ensured a consideration of various values and ideas within all of the institutions of government.

The process of expressing often conflicting ideals within the institutions of government, inevitably producing majority and minority opinions, is perhaps most visible in the judiciary.

The Supreme Court's legitimacy "depends in part upon the Court reaching its judgments through a deliberative process, just as Congress's legitimacy depends in part on its members enacting legislation through such a process. Given the secrecy of the Court during the formation of its judgments, the practice of dissent is necessary to manifest the deliberative character of the process through which the Court reaches its decisions." Dissent in the Court "takes on the critical role of revealing the Court's consistency with the constitutional commitment to deliberative democracy: Dissenting opinions manifest and constitute the deliberative interaction among judges that produces opinions and decisions of the Court."