The Supreme Court today rejected Donald Trump’s request that the High Court block House Democrats from viewing his tax returns. The order was brief, unsigned and noted no dissents.

What is the significance of it being unsigned?


2 Answers 2


The court receives petitions for something like 8,000 cases annually, but it only hears something like 75 to 100 cases. There is not enough time or manpower to address each case that comes up, so the vast majority of the cases are simply rejected without comment.

There are some notable exceptions, but a review of the order list from the day before Trump's order might give you a better feel for the caseload the court is dealing with and how unremarkable it is for an order to be brief, unsigned, and with no noted dissents.

The only significance of the Court disposing of Trump's case this way is that it indicates none of the justices considered the issues he was raising to be serious enough to merit their attention.

  • 1
    Is it possible that it only needs to be signed if the request is granted? If a request is not granted, then there really is no actual order, since the status-quo remains in effect.
    – brhans
    Nov 23, 2022 at 15:31
  • 2
    "none of the justices considered the issues he was raising to be serious enough to merit their attention": not necessarily. It could also be that one to three justices thought the court should take the case but did not for whatever reason choose to explain their thinking publicly.
    – phoog
    Nov 23, 2022 at 16:00
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    @brhans there is indeed an actual order. Someone submits a petition to the court and the court issues an order denying the petition (or perhaps granting it). Notice there are some unsigned orders granting petitions; these are also normal. Very few orders are signed. Instead of looking at the one document linked here, try supremecourt.gov/orders/ordersofthecourt
    – phoog
    Nov 23, 2022 at 16:04
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    That's quite incorrect. scotusblog.com/2022/11/…
    – bdb484
    Nov 24, 2022 at 3:07
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    @A.fm. dissents are not typical for such orders but they are indeed published sometimes. The second order list of the present term is an example: supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/101122zor_5426.pdf
    – phoog
    Nov 24, 2022 at 8:48

Orders that are issued without an opinion are often unsigned, meaning that no one justice takes responsibility for them, and no Justice thinks it worth registering a dissent.

Short opinions are sometimes issued per curiam meaning "by the court". This means that no one Justice takes responsibility or credit for them, either. They are usually brief and non-controversial, perhaps procedural.


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