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Full-Text Articles in Law

Constitutional Avoidance In The Executive Branch, Trevor W. Morrison Oct 2006

Constitutional Avoidance In The Executive Branch, Trevor W. Morrison

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

When executive branch actors interpret statutes, should they use the same methods as the courts? This Article takes up the question by considering a rule frequently invoked by the courts-the canon of constitutional avoidance. In addition to being a cardinal principle of judicial statutory interpretation, the avoidance canon also appears regularly and prominently in the work of the executive branch. It has played a central role, for example, in some of the most hotly debated episodes of executive branch statutory interpretation in the "war on terror." Typically, executive invocations of avoidance are supported by citation to one or more Supreme …


Constitutional Avoidance In The Executive Branch, Trevor W. Morrison Oct 2006

Constitutional Avoidance In The Executive Branch, Trevor W. Morrison

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

When executive actors interpret statutes, the prevailing assumption is that they can and should use the tools that courts use. Is that assumption sound? This Article takes up the question by considering a rule frequently invoked by the courts - the canon of constitutional avoidance.

Executive branch actors regularly use the avoidance canon. Indeed, some of the most hotly debated episodes of executive branch statutory interpretation in recent years - including the initial torture memorandum issued by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, the President's signing statement regarding the McCain Amendment's ban on the mistreatment of detainees, and the …


Sherman's March (In)To The Sea, Andrew S. Oldham Aug 2006

Sherman's March (In)To The Sea, Andrew S. Oldham

ExpressO

This Article argues that the Sherman Act is unconstitutional. At the very least, scholars and jurists must not take for granted Congress's ability to statutorily deputize the federal courts with common-lawmaking powers. The federal antitrust statute—which has been described as the Magna Carta of free enterprise—raises serious constitutional questions that have heretofore gone unexplored and unanswered. Specifically, it is difficult (if not impossible) to reconcile the Sherman Act with the separation of powers, the nondelegation doctrine, and the Supremacy Clause.


Review Essay: Using All Available Information, Max Huffman May 2006

Review Essay: Using All Available Information, Max Huffman

ExpressO

This is a review essay entitled “Using All Available Information,” in which I review and comment on Justice Stephen Breyer’s new book, Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution, published in September 2005. Justice Breyer’s book, adapted from the Tanner Lectures given in 2005 at Harvard Law School, serves partly as a response to Justice Scalia’s 1997 volume A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law. I review Justice Breyer’s book in part by comparison to and contrast with Justice Scalia’s. I propose that much about Justice Breyer’s interpretive philosophy, which centers on determining the “purposes” of texts and interpreting …


When Worlds Collide: Federal Construction Of State Institutional Competence, Marcia L. Mccormick Mar 2006

When Worlds Collide: Federal Construction Of State Institutional Competence, Marcia L. Mccormick

ExpressO

The federal courts routinely encounter issues of state law. Often a state court will have already analyzed the law at issue, either in a separate case or in the very situation before the federal court. In every one of those cases, the federal courts must decide whether to defer to the state court analysis and, if so, how much. The federal courts will often defer, but many times have not done so, and they rarely explain the reasons for the departures they make. While this lack of transparency gives the federal courts the greatest amount of discretion and power, it …


Foreign Relations As A Matter Of Interpretation: The Use And Abuse Of Charming Betsy, Roger P. Alford Jan 2006

Foreign Relations As A Matter Of Interpretation: The Use And Abuse Of Charming Betsy, Roger P. Alford

Journal Articles

Charming Betsy is a canon of construction that construes legislative enactments consistent with the law of nations. This canon promotes the passive virtue of avoiding constitutional problems by eschewing potential international law violations through statutory interpretation, thereby enhancing the United States' performance in foreign affairs. As a rule of separation of powers, Charming Betsy helps explain how foreign relations concerns clarify the scope of legislative, executive, and judicial authority. But when advocates contend that the Constitution likewise should be read through the lens of Charming Betsy, they abuse the doctrine by ignoring its purpose. While structural guarantees that relate to …


Conducting The Constitution: Justice Scalia, Textualism, And The Eroica Symphony, Ian Gallacher Jan 2006

Conducting The Constitution: Justice Scalia, Textualism, And The Eroica Symphony, Ian Gallacher

Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law

The goal of this article is a very modest one: to use one piece of music, the first movement of Beethoven's Eroica symphony, to consider how legal scholars, using the doctrinal principles they have developed to interpret the Constitution, would interpret the piece as conductors. This article makes no pretense of offering a new genre of legal hermeneutics; there is no suggestion here that a "law and musicology" movement will provide a comprehensive analytical framework which we can use to solve problems of Constitutional interpretation. Rather, this article suggests that musical interpretative "doctrines"--if so loose a collection of practices merits …