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Full-Text Articles in Law

"I Vote This Way Because I'M Wrong": The Supreme Court Justice As Epimenides, John M. Rogers Jan 1991

"I Vote This Way Because I'M Wrong": The Supreme Court Justice As Epimenides, John M. Rogers

Law Faculty Scholarly Articles

Possibly the most unsettling phenomenon in the Supreme Court's 1988 term was Justice White's decision to vote contrary to his own exhaustively stated reasoning in Pennsylvania v. Union Gas Co. His unexplained decision to vote against the result of his own analysis lends support to those who argue that law, or at least constitutional law, is fundamentally indeterminate. Proponents of the indeterminacy argument sometimes base their position on the allegedly inescapable inconsistency of decisions made by a multi-member court. There is an answer to the inconsistency argument, but it founders if justices sometimes vote, without explanation, on the ...


The Rehnquist Court, Statutory Interpretation, Inertial Burdens, And A Misleading Version Of Democracy, Jeffrey W. Stempel Jan 1991

The Rehnquist Court, Statutory Interpretation, Inertial Burdens, And A Misleading Version Of Democracy, Jeffrey W. Stempel

Scholarly Works

No one theory or school of thought consistently dominates judicial application of statutes, but the basic methodology employed by courts seems well-established if not always well-defined. Most mainstream judges and lawyers faced with a statutory construction task will look at (although with varying emphasis) the text of the statute, the legislative history of the provision, the context of the enactment, evident congressional purpose, and applicable agency interpretations, often employing the canons of construction for assistance. Although orthodox judicial thought suggests that the judge's role is confined to discerning textual meaning or directives of the enacting legislature, courts also often ...