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Legal Genres: The Gravity of the Supreme Court Opinion

  • Maryam Ahmed The George Washington University


The U.S. Supreme Court is the authority in the interpretation of U.S. law that acts both within an activity system and as an activity system itself. The written slip opinion contains a case’s complete history and the Court’s holding on the case—a distinct genre of legal documents that act as a powerful tool of the judiciary. However, the complexity of the legal dialect, and the Court’s operation as a discourse community often muddle the public’s ability to understand and engage with the Court. As such, nuances in legal interpretation that would otherwise explain the framework behind major political and social decisions are often lost in communication. This paper analyzes the role of the Court Opinion as an object of the Supreme Court activity system, and the effect of the concept of the “discourse community” on the Opinion’s effectiveness and clarity, through the 2018 “travel ban” case, Trump v. Hawaii.

Author Biography

Maryam Ahmed, The George Washington University

Maryam Ahmed is a sophomore at the George Washington University, majoring in Political Science and Economics. She hopes to continue exploring the intersection between society, law, and education, and pursue her JD upon graduation. 

How to Cite
AhmedM. (2020). Legal Genres: The Gravity of the Supreme Court Opinion. Young Scholars in Writing, 17, 137-146. Retrieved from
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