Second, periodic departures from the practice (by use of per curiams or other alternative opinion delivery devices) demonstrate the Justices' awareness that anonymity can enhance institutional credibility.
43, 73 n.210, 74 (2000) (attributing a decline in the number of per curiams issued by the Nebraska and Utah supreme courts to the establishment of courts of appeal that reduced the high court workload in those states); Note, Supreme Court Per Curiam Practice: A Critique, 69 HARV.
(80.) Wasby et al., supra note 77, at 35 (citing data from a sample of cases decided between 1969 and 1981, which showed that 30 percent of signed opinions were unanimous, whereas 44 percent of per curiams were unanimous).
In the United States, with the relatively rare exception of per curiam opinions and a handful of other procedural oddities, (17) each high court decision is issued under the name of the Justice who wrote it.
(21) Part II considers what can be learned from those instances in which the Court departs from its standard operating procedure and issues its decision by per curiam opinion or other procedural anomaly.
USE OF THE PER CURIAM OPINION AND OTHER PROCEDURAL ANOMALIES
Per curiam opinions--those issued "by the court" with no individual Justice's name attached (70)--have been alternatively praised and criticized by Court observers and by the Justices themselves.
Before considering the Court's use of the per curiam opinion, it is useful to define precisely what a per curiam opinion is.
Although per curiam opinions have a somewhat higher rate of unanimity than signed opinions, they are not always unanimous.
He argued that because per curiam means "by the Court," it should be limited to situations where the opinion can "speak for the entire Court on a matter so clear that the Court can and should speak with one voice"; to hand down a per curiam over the dissent of justices who would set the case for plenary treatment is thus wrong.
Despite this criticism and disagreement about the proper role of the per curiam, it has served a valuable function at numerous times in the Court's history.
The occasional appearance of alternative opinion delivery mechanisms besides the per curiam also supports the notion that the individually signed opinion is unsuited for some of the Court's most daunting work.