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Interpretation

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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 ...


From The History To The Theory Of Administrative Constitutionalism, Sophia Z. Lee Jan 2017

From The History To The Theory Of Administrative Constitutionalism, Sophia Z. Lee

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Legal scholars and historians have shown growing interest in how agencies interpret and implement the Constitution, what is called “administrative constitutionalism.” The points of contact between the history and theory of administrative constitutionalism are sufficiently extensive to merit systematic analysis. This chapter focuses on what history can offer the theory of administrative constitutionalism. It argues that historical accounts of administrative constitutionalism invite a more robust normative defense of the practice than theorists have thus far provided. There is much to the transparent, participatory versions of administrative constitutionalism that its defenders have primarily focused on thus far. This chapter is a ...


Justice Scalia’S Originalism And Formalism: The Rule Of Criminal Law As A Law Of Rules, Stephanos Bibas Aug 2016

Justice Scalia’S Originalism And Formalism: The Rule Of Criminal Law As A Law Of Rules, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Far too many reporters and pundits collapse law into politics, assuming that the left–right divide between Democratic and Republican appointees neatly explains politically liberal versus politically conservative outcomes at the Supreme Court. The late Justice Antonin Scalia defied such caricatures. His consistent judicial philosophy made him the leading exponent of originalism, textualism, and formalism in American law, and over the course of his three decades on the Court, he changed the terms of judicial debate. Now, as a result, supporters and critics alike start with the plain meaning of the statutory or constitutional text rather than loose appeals to ...


Precedent And Reliance, Randy J. Kozel Aug 2016

Precedent And Reliance, Randy J. Kozel

Randy J Kozel

Among the most prevalent justifications for deference to judicial precedent is the protection of reliance interests. The theory is that when judicial pronouncements have engendered significant reliance, there should be a meaningful presumption against adjudicative change. Yet there remains a fundamental question as to why reliance on precedent warrants judicial protection in the first place.

This Article explores the dynamics and implications of precedential reliance. It contends that the case for protecting reliance on precedent is uncertain. There are several reasons why reliance might potentially be worth protecting, but all are subject to serious limitations or challenges. To bolster the ...


Originalism: A Thing Worth Doing . . ., D. A. Jeremy Telman Dec 2015

Originalism: A Thing Worth Doing . . ., D. A. Jeremy Telman

D. A. Jeremy Telman

Originalism in constitutional interpretation continues to grow in its reach, sophistication, practical applicability, and popular support. Although originalism first developed in the 1960s as a doctrine of judicial modesty, originalist judges are now far more confident of their ability to discern the Constitution’s original meaning and thus are willing to strike down legislative enactments inconsistent with that meaning. Two aphorisms by the leading practitioners of originalism sum up originalism’s journey. Justice Scalia, writing in the 1980s, conceded that originalism was merely “the lesser evil” and consoled himself with the Chestertonian dictum that “a thing worth doing is worth ...


When Congress Is Away The President Shall Not Play: Justice Scalia's Concurrence In Nlrb V. Noel Canning, Krista M. Pikus Oct 2015

When Congress Is Away The President Shall Not Play: Justice Scalia's Concurrence In Nlrb V. Noel Canning, Krista M. Pikus

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

On June 26, 2014, the Supreme Court unanimously decided NLRB v. Noel Canning, holding that the Recess Appointments Clause authorizes the president “to fill any existing vacancy during any recess . . . of sufficient length.” Justice Scalia filed a concurring opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Thomas, and Justice Alito. While Justice Scalia “concurred,” his opinion read more like a dissent. Both the majority and the concurring opinions relied heavily on historical evidence in arriving at their respective opinions. This was expected from Justice Scalia given his method of “new originalism,” which focuses on “the original public meaning of the constitutional ...


The Arduous Virtue Of Fidelity: Originalism, Scalia, Tribe, And Nerve, Ronald Dworkin Apr 2015

The Arduous Virtue Of Fidelity: Originalism, Scalia, Tribe, And Nerve, Ronald Dworkin

Fordham Law Review

Proper constitutional interpretation takes both text and past practice as its object: Lawyers and judges faced with a contemporary constitutional issue must try to construct a coherent, principled, and persuasive interpretation of the text of particular clauses, the structure of the Constitution as a whole, and our history under the Constitution—an interpretation that both unifies these distinct sources, so far as this is possible, and directs future adjudication. They must seek, that is, constitutional integrity. So fidelity to the Constitution's text does not exhaust constitutional interpretation, and on some occasions overall constitutional integrity might require a result that ...


The Ontological Foundations Of The Debate Over Originalism, André Leduc Jan 2015

The Ontological Foundations Of The Debate Over Originalism, André Leduc

Washington University Jurisprudence Review

Because the participants in the debate over constitutional originalism generally understand the controversy to be over a matter of the objective truth of competing interpretations of the Constitution, they do not believe that their mission is to persuade the other side. When what is at stake is a matter of objective truth, subjective opinions are of less moment.

This Article begins the long overdue transcendence of our increasingly fruitless and acrimonious debate over originalism by articulating the tacit philosophical premises that make the debate possible. It demonstrates that originalism, despite its pretensions to common sense and its disavowal of abstruse ...


Defensor Fidei: The Travails Of A Post-Realist Formalist, Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky Dec 2014

Defensor Fidei: The Travails Of A Post-Realist Formalist, Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky

Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky

This Article explores common formalist themes, asking not whether formalism's aspirations are attainable but why formalists still struggle to attain them in the face of sustained attacks by anti-formalists. After briefly sketching the tenets of formalism in Section I, this Article turns to an examination of Summers' "post-realist formalism." Finally, this Article probes the philosophical and psychological attractions of formalism and suggests that formalism's promise of stability and order may be essential to the effective functioning of the legal system, even if this promise can never be realized.


Confined To A Narrative: Approaching Rape Shield Laws Through Legal Narratology, Kathryn C. Swiss Jan 2014

Confined To A Narrative: Approaching Rape Shield Laws Through Legal Narratology, Kathryn C. Swiss

Washington University Jurisprudence Review

No abstract provided.


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 ...


Repulsed By Rap? Renewal Options Are Singing A Different Tune: An Analysis Of Bleecker Street Tenants Corp. V. Bleeker Jones, Llc, Jonathan M. Vecchi May 2013

Repulsed By Rap? Renewal Options Are Singing A Different Tune: An Analysis Of Bleecker Street Tenants Corp. V. Bleeker Jones, Llc, Jonathan M. Vecchi

Touro Law Review

No abstract provided.


Judicial Deference To Administrative Interpretations Of Law, Antonin Scalia Apr 2013

Judicial Deference To Administrative Interpretations Of Law, Antonin Scalia

Journal of the National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary

No abstract provided.


Crushing Animals And Crashing Funerals: The Semiotics Of Free Expression, Harold Anthony Lloyd Jan 2013

Crushing Animals And Crashing Funerals: The Semiotics Of Free Expression, Harold Anthony Lloyd

Harold Anthony Lloyd

This article addresses judicial choices and semantic errors involved in United States v. Stevens, 130 S.Ct. 1577 (2010) (refusing to read “killing” and “wounding” to include cruelty and thus striking down a federal statute outlawing videos of animal cruelty), and Snyder v. Phelps, 131 S.Ct. 1207 (2011) (finding a First Amendment right to picket military funerals and to verbally attack parents of dead soldiers as part of purportedly-public expression). This article maintains that a better understanding of semiotics (the theory of signs) exposes the flaws in both decisions and bolsters the arguments of the lone dissenter in both ...


Precedent And Reliance, Randy J. Kozel Jan 2013

Precedent And Reliance, Randy J. Kozel

Journal Articles

Among the most prevalent justifications for deference to judicial precedent is the protection of reliance interests. The theory is that when judicial pronouncements have engendered significant reliance, there should be a meaningful presumption against adjudicative change. Yet there remains a fundamental question as to why reliance on precedent warrants judicial protection in the first place.

This Article explores the dynamics and implications of precedential reliance. It contends that the case for protecting reliance on precedent is uncertain. There are several reasons why reliance might potentially be worth protecting, but all are subject to serious limitations or challenges. To bolster the ...


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 ...


Interpretation And Construction In Altering Rules, Gregory Klass Oct 2012

Interpretation And Construction In Altering Rules, Gregory Klass

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This essay is a response to Ian Ayres's, "Regulating Opt-Out: An Economic Theory of Altering Rules," 121 Yale L.J. 2032 (2012). Ayres identifies an important question: How does the law decide when parties have opted-out of a contractual default? Unfortunately, his article tells only half of the story about such altering rules. Ayres cares about rules designed to instruct parties on how to get the terms that they want. By focusing on such rules he ignores altering rules designed instead to interpret the nonlegal meaning of the parties' acts or agreement. This limited vision is characteristic of economic ...


Constitution Day 2012: The American Judiciary, Robert Berry Jan 2012

Constitution Day 2012: The American Judiciary, Robert Berry

Library Publications

Robert Berry, research librarian for the social sciences at the Sacred Heart University Library, has written an essay about the role of the American Judiciary in interpreting laws of the United States government. The essay was written for the occasion of Constitution Day 2012 at Sacred Heart University.


Meaning, Purpose, And Cause In The Law Of Deception, Gregory Klass Jan 2012

Meaning, Purpose, And Cause In The Law Of Deception, Gregory Klass

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Laws designed to affect the flow of information take many forms: rules against misrepresentation, disclosure requirements, secrecy requirements, rules governing the formatting or packaging of information, and interpretive rules designed to give people new reasons to share information. Together these and similar rules constitute the law of deception: laws that aim to prevent or cure deception. One encounters similar problems of design, function and justification throughout the law of deception. Yet very little has been written about the category as a whole. This article begins to sketch a general theory. It identifies three regulatory approaches. Interpretive laws, such as common ...


Failed Constitutional Metaphors: The Wall Of Separation And The Penumbra, Louis J. Sirico Jr. Jan 2011

Failed Constitutional Metaphors: The Wall Of Separation And The Penumbra, Louis J. Sirico Jr.

University of Richmond Law Review

No abstract provided.


The Language Of Law And The Foundations Of American Constitutionalism, Gary L. Mcdowell Jan 2010

The Language Of Law And The Foundations Of American Constitutionalism, Gary L. Mcdowell

Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Constructing The Constitutional Canon: The Metonymic Evolution Of Federalist 10, Ian C. Bartrum Jan 2010

Constructing The Constitutional Canon: The Metonymic Evolution Of Federalist 10, Ian C. Bartrum

Ian C Bartrum

This paper is part of larger symposium convened for the 2010 AALS annual meeting. In it I adapt some of my earlier constitutional theoretical work to engage the topic of that symposium: the so-called “interpretation/construction distinction”. I make two related criticisms of the distinction: (1) it relies on a flawed conception of linguistic meaning, and (2) while these flaws may be harmless in the “easy” cases of interpretation, they are much more problematic in the difficult cases of most concern. Thus, I doubt the ultimate utility of the distinction as part of a “true and correct” model of constitutional ...


Legal Interpretation: The Window Of The Text As Transparent, Opaque, Or Translucent, George H. Taylor Jan 2010

Legal Interpretation: The Window Of The Text As Transparent, Opaque, Or Translucent, George H. Taylor

Nevada Law Journal

It is a common metaphor that the text is a window onto the world that it depicts. I want to explore this metaphor and the insights it may offer us for better understanding legal interpretation. As in the opening epigraph from James Boyd White, I shall develop the metaphor of the text as window in three ways: the text may be transparent, opaque, or translucent. My goal will be to argue that the best way to understand legal interpretation is to conceive of the legal text as translucent, but along the way I will compare the merits also of considering ...


Interpretation, Francis J. Mootz Iii Jan 2008

Interpretation, Francis J. Mootz Iii

Scholarly Works

In this chapter from "Law and the Humanities: An Introduction," published by Cambridge University Press, I first survey various theoretical approaches to interpretation, including natural law, analytical legal positivism, law as communication (originalism, intentionalism, and new textualism), and the hermeneutical turn. I then discuss the role of interpretation in contract law, statutory law and constitutional law, to situate the theories in practice.


The Constitution And The Public Trust, Robert G. Natelson Jan 2004

The Constitution And The Public Trust, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

The American Founders believed that public officials were bound by fiduciary obligations, and they wrote that view into the Constitution. This article copiously documents their position.


Running Backs, Wolves, And Other Fatalities: How Manipulations Of Coherence In Legal Opinions Marginalize Violent Death, Jonathan Yovel Jan 2004

Running Backs, Wolves, And Other Fatalities: How Manipulations Of Coherence In Legal Opinions Marginalize Violent Death, Jonathan Yovel

Jonathan Yovel

By examining legal cases that involve violent death and its marginalization by the courts, this essay looks into the relations between narrative coherence and narrative absurd in judicial opinions. Coherence, rather than a static, unequivocal characteristic of legal narratives, is studied here as a highly manipulable narrative and rhetorical performance. Giving a performative twist to reader-response approaches I do not really ask what is the meaning of this text (as construed by its reading)? but rather, working from the position of the text's discursive community, what does this text do? The reading of these cases explores how judicial narration ...


The Coiled Serpent Of Argument: Reason, Authority, And Law In A Talmudic Tale, David Luban Jan 2004

The Coiled Serpent Of Argument: Reason, Authority, And Law In A Talmudic Tale, David Luban

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

One of the most celebrated Talmudic parables begins with a remarkably dry legal issue debated among a group of rabbis. A modern reader should think of the rabbis as a collegial court, very much like a secular appellate court, because the purpose of their debate is to generate edicts that will bind the community. The issue under debate concerns the ritual cleanliness of a baked earthenware stove, sliced horizontally into rings and cemented back together with unbaked mortar. Do the laws of purity that apply to uncut stoves apply to this one as well? This stove is the so-called "oven ...


Interpretation Or Regulation? Gaunt V. John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, Kenneth S. Abraham Jun 2002

Interpretation Or Regulation? Gaunt V. John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, Kenneth S. Abraham

Nevada Law Journal

No abstract provided.


When Is The New York Court Of Appeals Justified In Deviating From Federal Constitutional Interpretation?, Honorable Richard D. Simons Jan 1998

When Is The New York Court Of Appeals Justified In Deviating From Federal Constitutional Interpretation?, Honorable Richard D. Simons

Touro Law Review

No abstract provided.