Dissent, Divergence, and the Single-Voice Approach

I revisit the ECJ’s single-voice approach from a theoretical perspective inspired by Bourdieu’s theory of practice.
The single-voice approach is said to lead to a more collegial practice. However, this does not necessarily cause a more coherent practice. Through their practice at the Court, judges develop common schemata of perception, such as the use of certain legal categories or concepts. As the single-voice approach structures the judges’ deliberations, it serves as a way to transmit these schemata into the judges’ habitus, who, coming from diverse national, judicial, and professional backgrounds, may have vastly divergent understandings of, and approaches to law. While a single-voice approach may suppress dissent, it may lead to vaguer judgments accommodating a plurality of views, which transmit broader schemata. This breadth limits the level to which judges converge around the Court’s vision. By suppressing dissent, the Court may reduce its capability for structural convergence.