Dissent Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Dissent, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Dissent?

n. 1) A judge or court of appeals opinion which disagrees with the popular opinion. Dissent may triumph as the law and society progress. Dissenting opinions of Oliver Wendess Holmes, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1902-1932) have been widely quoted and have served to shape the basis for later majority opinions. 2) Declared disagreement with mainstream thought.

History and Meaning of Dissent

Dissent can be defined as a disagreement or objection to a prevailing opinion, belief or practice. It is a fundamental right that can be observed in legal, political and religious arenas. In the context of law, it is a legal opinion expressed by a judge or justice who disagrees with the majority decision. In some cases, dissenting opinions have played an essential role in shaping the law and legal systems.

The concept of dissent has been present throughout history, ranging from conflicts between nations to matters of personal belief. Dissenters have faced consequences such as persecution, imprisonment, and public shaming, but their views have often been influential in creating change.

Examples of Dissent

  1. In a high-profile court case, one of the judges dissented from the majority opinion, stating that he believed the defendant was innocent and that there was insufficient evidence to convict him.

  2. A politician publicly voiced her dissent to her party's decision, stating that she believed their policy would harm the people in her constituency.

  3. In religious contexts, dissent can take many forms. It might involve a breakaway group forming its own denomination or individuals voicing their opinions in opposition to established doctrine.

Legal Terms Similar to Dissent

  1. Concurring Opinion: A written opinion expressing agreement with the majority decision but for different reasons than those in the majority opinion.

  2. Obiter Dictum: A judge's incidental expression of opinion, not essential to the decision and not establishing a precedent.

  3. Dissolution: The formal ending of a partnership or corporation.