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Georgetown University Law Center

Legislation

Statutory interpretation

Publication Year

Articles 1 - 5 of 5

Full-Text Articles in Legal History

Elementary Statutory Interpretation: Rethinking Legislative Intent And History, Victoria Nourse Jan 2014

Elementary Statutory Interpretation: Rethinking Legislative Intent And History, Victoria Nourse

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This article argues that theorists and practitioners of statutory interpretation should rethink two very basic concepts—legislative intent and legislative history. Textualists urge that to look to legislative history is to seek an intent that does not exist. This article argues we should put this objection to bed because, even if groups do not have minds, they have the functional equivalent of intent: they plan by using internal sequential procedures allowing them to project their collective actions forward in time. What we should mean by legislative “intent” is legislative “context.” For a group, context includes how groups act—their procedures ...


Overrides: The Super-Study, Victoria Nourse Jan 2014

Overrides: The Super-Study, Victoria Nourse

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Overrides should be of interest to a far larger group of scholars than statutory interpretation enthusiasts. We have, in overrides, open inter branch encounters between Congress and the Courts far more typically found in the shadows of everyday Washington politics. Interestingly, Christiansen and Eskridge posit the court-congress relationship as more triadic than dyadic given the role played by agencies. One of their more interesting conclusions is that agencie are the big winners in the override game: agencies were present in seventy percent of the override cases and the agency view prevailed with Congress and against the Supreme Court in three-quarters ...


A Decision Theory Of Statutory Interpretation: Legislative History By The Rules, Victoria Nourse Jan 2012

A Decision Theory Of Statutory Interpretation: Legislative History By The Rules, Victoria Nourse

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

We have a law of civil procedure, criminal procedure, and administrative procedure, but we have no law of legislative procedure. This failure has serious consequences in the field of statutory interpretation. Using simple rules garnered from Congress itself, this Article argues that those rules are capable of transforming the field of statutory interpretation. Addressing canonical cases in the field, from Holy Trinity to Bock Laundry, from Weber to Public Citizen, this article shows how cases studied by vast numbers of law students are made substantially more manageable, and in some cases quite simple, through knowledge of congressional procedure. No longer ...


Misunderstanding Congress: Statutory Interpretation, The Supermajoritarian Difficulty, And The Separation Of Powers, Victoria Nourse Jan 2011

Misunderstanding Congress: Statutory Interpretation, The Supermajoritarian Difficulty, And The Separation Of Powers, Victoria Nourse

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Every lawyer's theory of statutory interpretation carries with it an idea of Congress, and every idea of Congress, in turn, carries with it an idea of the separation of powers. In this article, the author critiques three dominant academic theories of statutory interpretation--textualism, purposivism, and game theory--for their assumptions about Congress and the separation of powers. She argues that each academic theory fails to account for Congress's dominant institutional features: "the electoral connection," the "supermajoritarian difficulty," and the "principle of structure-induced ambiguity." This critique yields surprising conclusions, rejecting both standard liberal and conservative views on statutory interpretation.

"Plain ...


The Aspirational Constitution, Robin West Jan 1993

The Aspirational Constitution, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Firmly embedded in every theory of judicial decisionmaking lies an important set of assumptions about the way government is supposed to work. Sometimes these theories about government are made explicit. More often they are not. Moreover, deeply embedded in every theory of government is a theory of human nature. Although these assumptions about human nature generally remain latent within the larger theory, because they provide the underpinnings for our ideas about the way government is supposed to work, they drive our notions about judicial decisionmaking. For example, the theory of government reflected in the United States Constitution reveals what one ...