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Cornell Law Review

2018

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Divide & Concur: Separate Opinions & Legal Change, Thomas B. Bennett, Barry Friedman, Andrew D. Martin, Susan Navarro Smelcer May 2018

Divide & Concur: Separate Opinions & Legal Change, Thomas B. Bennett, Barry Friedman, Andrew D. Martin, Susan Navarro Smelcer

Cornell Law Review

To the extent concurring opinions elicit commentary at all, it is largely contempt. They are condemned for muddying the clarity of the law, fracturing the court, and diminishing the authoritative voice of the majority. But what if this neglect, or even disdain, of concurring opinions is off the mark? In this article, we argue for the importance of concurring opinions, demonstrating how they serve as the pulse and compass of legal change. Concurring opinions let us know what is happening below the surface of the law, thereby encouraging litigants to push the law in particular directions. This is particularly true ...