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Georgetown University Law Center

Interpretation

Constitutional Law

Publication Year

Articles 1 - 5 of 5

Full-Text Articles in Legal History

The Canon Wars, Anita S. Krishnakumar, Victoria Nourse Nov 2018

The Canon Wars, Anita S. Krishnakumar, Victoria Nourse

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Canons are taking their turn down the academic runway in ways that no one would have foretold just a decade ago. Affection for canons of construction has taken center stage in recent Supreme Court cases and in constitutional theory. Harvard Dean John Manning and originalists Will Baude and Stephen Sachs have all suggested that principles of “ordinary interpretation” including canons should inform constitutional interpretation. Given this newfound enthusiasm for canons, and their convergence in both constitutional and statutory law, it is not surprising that we now have two competing book-length treatments of the canons—one by Justice Scalia and Bryan ...


The Constitution And Legislative History, Victoria Nourse Jan 2014

The Constitution And Legislative History, Victoria Nourse

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In this article, the author provides an extended analysis of the constitutional claims against legislative history, arguing that, under textualists’ own preference for constitutional text, the use of legislative history should be constitutional to the extent it is supported by Congress’s rulemaking power, a constitutionally enumerated power.

This article has five parts. In part I, the author explains the importance of this question, considering the vast range of cases to which this claim of unconstitutionality could possibly apply—after all, statutory interpretation cases are the vast bulk of the work of the federal courts. She also explains why these ...


Originalism And Constitutional Construction, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2013

Originalism And Constitutional Construction, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Constitutional interpretation is the activity that discovers the communicative content or linguistic meaning of the constitutional text. Constitutional construction is the activity that determines the legal effect given the text, including doctrines of constitutional law and decisions of constitutional cases or issues by judges and other officials. The interpretation-construction distinction, frequently invoked by contemporary constitutional theorists and rooted in American legal theory in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, marks the difference between these two activities.

This article advances two central claims about constitutional construction. First, constitutional construction is ubiquitous in constitutional practice. The central warrant for this claim is conceptual ...


Communicative Content And Legal Content, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2013

Communicative Content And Legal Content, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This essay investigates a familiar set of questions about the relationship between legal texts (e.g., constitutions, statutes, opinions, orders, and contracts) and the content of the law (e.g., norms, rules, standards, doctrines, and mandates). Is the original meaning of the constitutional text binding on the Supreme Court when it develops doctrines of constitutional law? Should statutes be given their plain meaning or should judges devise statutory constructions that depart from the text to serve a purpose? What role should default rules play in the interpretation and construction of contracts? This essay makes two moves that can help lawyers ...


Adjudication Is Not Interpretation: Some Reservations About The Law-As-Literature Movement, Robin West Jan 1987

Adjudication Is Not Interpretation: Some Reservations About The Law-As-Literature Movement, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Among other achievements, the modern law-as-literature movement has prompted increasing numbers of legal scholars to embrace the claim that adjudication is interpretation, and more specifically, that constitutional adjudication is interpretation of the Constitution. That adjudication is interpretation -- that an adjudicative act is an interpretive act -- more than any other central commitment, unifies the otherwise diverse strands of the legal and constitutional theory of the late twentieth century.

In this article, I will argue in this article against both modern forms of interpretivism. The analogue of law to literature, on which much of modern interpretivism is based, although fruitful, has carried ...