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Vanderbilt University Law School

Statutory interpretation

2015

Agency

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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 …