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Vanderbilt University Law School

Statutory interpretation

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

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Full-Text Articles in Law

The Enacted Purposes Canon, Kevin M. Stack Jan 2019

The Enacted Purposes Canon, Kevin M. Stack

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Article argues that the principle relied upon in King v. Burwell that courts "cannot interpret statutes to negate their stated purposes"-the enacted purposes canon-is and should be viewed as a bedrock element of statutory interpretation. The Supreme Court has relied upon this principle for decades, but it has done so in ways that do not call attention to this interpretive choice. As a result, the scope and patterns of the Court's reliance are easy to miss. After reconstructing the Court's practice, this Article defends this principle of interpretation on analytic, normative, and pragmatic grounds. Building on jurisprudence showing that …


The Inference From Authority To Interpretive Method In Constitutional And Statutory Domains, Kevin M. Stack Jan 2017

The Inference From Authority To Interpretive Method In Constitutional And Statutory Domains, Kevin M. Stack

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Should courts interpret the Constitution as they interpret statutes? This question has been answered in a wide variety of ways. On the one hand, many scholars and jurists understand constitutional and statutory interpretation as largely overlapping, continuous, or converging. For some, this overlap follows directly from the Constitution's status as a form of legislated law. In this way of thinking, because the Constitution, like a statute, was bargained over and formally adopted, it should be interpreted in accordance with general principles applicable to legislated law. Proponents of this view argue that if constitutional interpretation appears distinctive in practice, that is …


Is The Constitution Special?, Christopher Serkin, Nelson Tebbe Jan 2016

Is The Constitution Special?, Christopher Serkin, Nelson Tebbe

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

"[W]e must never forget, that it is a constitution we are expounding.” If there was such a danger when Chief Justice John Marshall wrote those words, there is none today. Americans regularly assume that the Constitution is special, and legal professionals treat it differently from other sources of law. But what if that is wrongheaded? In this Article, we identify and question the professional practice of constitutional exceptionalism. First, we show that standard arguments from text, structure, and history work differently in constitutional law. Second, we examine the possible justifications for such distinctive interpretation among lawyers, and we find them …


Purposivism In The Executive Branch: How Agencies Interpret Statutes, Kevin M. Stack Jan 2015

Purposivism In The Executive Branch: How Agencies Interpret Statutes, Kevin M. Stack

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

After decades of debate, the lines of distinction between textualism and purposivism have been carefully drawn with respect to the judicial task of statutory interpretation. Far less attention has been devoted to the question of how executive branch officials approach statutory interpretation. While scholars have contrasted agencies interpretive practices from those of courts, they have not yet developed a theory of agency statutory interpretation. This Article develops a purposivist theory of agency statutory interpretation on the ground that regulatory statutes oblige agencies to implement the statutes they administer in that manner. Regulatory statutes not only grant powers but also impose …


The Origins Of Legislation, Ganesh Sitaraman Jan 2015

The Origins Of Legislation, Ganesh Sitaraman

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Although legislation is at the center of legal debates on statutory interpretation, administrative law, and delegation, little is known about how legislation is actually drafted. If scholars pay any attention to Congress at all, they tend to focus on what happens after legislation is introduced, ignoring how the draft came to exist in the first place. In other words, they focus on the legislative process, not the drafting process. The result is that our account of Congress, the legislative process, and the administrative state is impoverished, and debates in statutory interpretation and administrative law are incomplete. This Article seeks to …