Glossary: What words and phrases in Supreme Court analysis mean

It's another October Term for the Supreme Court!

And that means it's another year of compelling Supreme Court analysis.

You may not be familiar with the jargon that usually accompanies Supreme Court analysis. Here's a brief glossary of key terms, and what they mean when an author uses them.


along gender lines: "Justice Breyer did not vote along partisan lines."

along partisan lines: "Thank goodness Justices Stevens and Souter retired."

angry dissent: "I [the author] agree with the majority."

bitter dissent: "I agree with the majority."

blistering dissent: "I agree with the dissent."

bold: "There is no meaningful textual support for the argument the Court advanced."

Citizens United: "This article is clickbait."

hammered: "The opinion was disrespectful, but I enjoyed it."

impassioned: "The opinion might not have had the law, or the facts, on its side, but it sure did have the adjectives and the adverbs."

the justice was moved to read his/her dissent aloud from the bench: "I'm bursting at the seams to inform you that I agree with that dissent."

Lochner: "I'm about to rip Chief Justice Roberts for being pro-business."

major blow: "The losing party actually lost."

the majority dismissed these concerns: "I had concerns that the majority did not address."

may: "This is not a fact."

many observers: "The first law professor who answered my phone call."

members of Congress expressed outrage: "Some people have never read Article V."

modest: "The opinion did not discuss as many things as I wanted."

narrowly divided: "The vote was 5-4, and I agree with the four dissenting justices."

passionate dissent: "I agree with the dissent."

potentially: "I am making things up."

powerful dissent: "I agree with the dissent."

rebuked: "The losing party actually lost."

repeatedly: "More than once."

restraint: "I am going to compliment Chief Justice Roberts."

scathing: "The opinion used a lot of hyperbolic words."

setback: "The losing party actually lost."

sharply divided: "The vote was 5-4, and I agree with the four dissenting justices."

sidestepped: "The Court did not include very much dicta."

speculated: "You should not read the rest of this sentence."

supremely: "I lack any creativity."

surprising: "My rampant speculation after listening to oral argument was wrong."

sweeping: "I think this case is important."

tea leaves: "You should not read the rest of this article."

unbroken silence: "I'm going to discuss Justice Thomas."

unprecedented: "It turns out that the Court had a purpose when it granted certiorari to address a new issue."

unusual alliance: "This isn't the 5-4 opinion I wanted to write about."

waded: "The Court probably regrets granting cert."