A denial of an en banc hearing turned fiery Monday, when Judge James Wynn of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit labeled his colleagues’ dissents as “advisory opinions that read like editorials” on the three-judge panel decision.

Highlighting “serious drawbacks” to such writings, Wynn brought attention to a larger debate over whether dissents to en banc rehearing denials are improper and involve judges engaging in advocacy. In recent years, experts say, dissents of this kind have become more common and controversial.

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