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Vanderbilt University Law School

Constitutional Law

Statutory interpretation

1992

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The Costs Of Incoherence: A Comment On Plain Meaning, West Virginia University Hospitals, Inc. V. Casey, And Due Process Of Statutory Interpretation, T. Alexander Aleinikoff, Theodore M. Shaw Apr 1992

The Costs Of Incoherence: A Comment On Plain Meaning, West Virginia University Hospitals, Inc. V. Casey, And Due Process Of Statutory Interpretation, T. Alexander Aleinikoff, Theodore M. Shaw

Vanderbilt Law Review

Karl Llewellyn's classic article on the canons of statutory construction, which we rightly celebrate in this Symposium, is too clever by half. To the reader untutored in the scholarly literature on statutory interpretation, the "thrust but parry" pairing of the canons is a delightful demonstration of how legal argument is structured in a way guaranteed to maintain discretion in the judiciary and to keep lawyers in business. No case involving a statute is clear cut because the canons can lend support to either side. This means that no lawyer is without an argument, and a judge is free to do …