Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Financial, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


The opinion of an appellate court in which more justices join than in any concurring opinion.

The excess of votes cast for one candidate over those votes cast for any other candidate.

Appellate panels are made up of three or more justices. In some cases the justices disagree over the outcome of the case to such an extent that a majority opinion cannot be achieved. (A majority opinion is one in which the number of justices who join is larger than the number of justices who do not.) To resolve such disagreements and reach a final decision, two or more justices publish opinions called concurring opinions, and the other justices decide which of these concurring opinions they will join. The concurring opinion in which more justices join than any other is called a plurality opinion. Plurality decisions can reflect a disagreement among the justices over a legal issue in a case or can reveal deeper ideological differences among the members of the court.

The term plurality is also used to describe the outcome of an election that involves more than two candidates. The candidate who receives the greatest number of votes is said to have received a plurality of the votes. In contrast, the term majority is used to describe the outcome of an election involving only two candidates; the winner is said to have received a majority of the votes.

A candidate who has a plurality of the votes can also have a majority of the votes, but only if she receives a number of votes greater than that cast for all the other candidates combined. Mathematically, a candidate with a plurality has a majority if she receives more than one-half of the total number of votes cast. If candidate John Doe has a plurality, he has earned more votes than any other candidate, but whether he has a majority depends on how many votes he won.


Court Opinion.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

PLURALITY, government. The greater number of votes given at an election; it is distinguished from a majority, (q.v.) which is a plurality of all the votes which might have been given; though in common parlance majority is used in the sense here given to plurality.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
"merely a narrower version of the plurality's view").
has very little practical effect on the way that plurality precedent
That this happens even when a candidate gets few votes demonstrates just how vulnerable plurality voting is to the vote-splitting effect.
In fact, with plurality voting, the candidate in the middle--the moderate--sometimes stands the least chance to win when surrounded by candidates on either ideological end.
the plurality. (116) The first line of precedent provides states great
Political plurality? The republic's political system is based on political plurality aimed at a peaceful transition of power through a civil democratic system and free and fair elections.
"Pakistan said minorities are not treated well in India, I think Pakistan should be the last country to lecture us on plurality and inclusive society.
For, in their admittedly sensitive work, whenever any one of them goofs it up, the blame can then go to the entire plurality of them, rather than to any individual sub-editor.
Meanwhile, Republicans are divided on profiling, and a slight plurality deny that growing discrimination has been a problem.
While it raised concerns over media plurality, Ofcom found there was no reason to block the takeover bid on grounds of broadcasting standards.
At the meeting, the shareholders re-elected Joseph L Morea as an independent director in Group I by a plurality of all shares voted; Barry M Portnoy was re-elected as a managing director in Group I by a plurality of all shares voted; approved the adoption of the 2017 Management Incentive Plan; and the appointment of RSM US LLP as the company's independent registered public accounting firm, was ratified.