U.S. Supreme Court Lone Dissents

“Loners” is our slang for lone dissents. This page provides links to all known lone dissents of the U.S. Supreme Court. The following collections are now available:

Our collections use three different opinion sources:

We prefer opinions in PDF format because they faithfully reproduce the printed versions. Our preferred preference would be to have access to an XML-based text source and render the opinions using HTML and CSS, but (a) we don’t have such a source, and (b) that’s a lot of work.

Finally, if you’re looking for all opinions, not merely lone dissents, there are some additional collections you can browse, with more coming soon:

Notes on Terms

A short history of Supreme Court terms is provided below, to provide some context for the list that follows. For more detail, see Terms of The Court.


The first Judiciary Act, passed in 1789, required the Supreme Court to hold two sessions (terms) per year, beginning on the first Monday in February and again on the first Monday in August.

Then by Statute passed on February 13, 1801, terms were changed to the first Monday of June and December:

SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of
Representatives of the United States of America in
Congress assembled, That from and after the next session
of the Supreme Court of the United States, the said court
shall be holden by the justices thereof, or any four of
them, at the city of Washington, and shall have two
sessions in each and every year thereafter, to commence
on the first Monday of June and December respectively;

Then by Statute passed on April 29, 1802, terms were changed to the first Monday of February, reducing the number of sessions per year to one:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That
from and after the passing of this act, the Supreme Court
of the United States shall be holden by the justices thereof,
or any four of them, at the city of Washington, and shall
have one session in each and every year, to commence on the
first Monday of February annually;
...
And so much of the act, intituled "An act to establish the
judicial courts of the United States," passed the twenty-fourth
day of September, seventeen hundred and eighty-nine, as provides
for the holding a session of the supreme court of the United
States on the first Monday of August, annually, is hereby
repealed.

Then by Statute passed on May 4, 1826, terms were changed to the second Monday of January:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That,
from and after the year one thousand eight hundred and twenty-six,
the session of the Supreme Court, heretofore held on the first
Monday of February annually, shall, instead thereof, be held on
the second Monday of January annually;

Then by Statute passed on June 17, 1844, terms were changed to the first Monday of December.

NOTE: Even though this change occurred in 1844, you may notice that the Court continued to call their terms “January” terms, until December 1850 when it finally began referring to them as December terms. This change does not mean there were two terms in 1850, as some would suggest. 1844 was the year there were actually two terms: January Term 1844, and “January Term 1845”, which began in December 1844.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
That from and after the passage of this act, the sessions
of the Supreme Court, heretofore commenced and held on the
second Monday of January, annually, shall instead thereof
be commenced and held the first Monday of December, annually;

Then by Statute passed on January 24, 1873, terms were changed to the second Monday of October:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That
from and after the passage of this act the annual session of
the Supreme Court of the United States shall commence on the
second Monday of October in each year....

Then by Statute passed on September 6, 1916, terms were changed to the first Monday of October:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That
section two hundred and thirty of an Act to codify, revise,
and amend the laws relating to the judiciary, approved March
third, nineteen hundred and eleven, known as the Judicial
Code, be, and it hereby is, amended so as to read as follows:

"SEC. 230. The Supreme Court shall hold at the seat of
government one term annually, commencing on the first Monday
in October, and such adjourned or special terms as it may find
necessary for the dispatch of business."

Lone Dissents by Term

* Technically, January Terms 1845 through 1850 were actually December Terms 1844 through 1849; the Court apparently preferred to adhere to its previous naming convention, at least for six more years. Refer to the following Statute passed on June 17, 1844 (see above).