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Journal Articles


Legal theory

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Democratizing Interpretation, Anya Bernstein Nov 2018

Democratizing Interpretation, Anya Bernstein

Journal Articles

Judges interpreting statutes sometimes seem eager to outsource the work. They quote ordinary speakers to define a statutory term, point to how an audience understands it, or pin it down with interpretive canons. But sometimes conduct that appears to diminish someone’s power instead sneakily enhances it. So it is, I argue, with these forms of interpretive outsourcing. Each seems to constrain judges’ authority by handing the reins to someone else, giving interpretation a democratized veneer. But in fact each funnels power right back to the judge.

The outsourcing approaches I describe show a disconnect between the questions judges pose and …

Differentiating Deference, Anya Bernstein Jan 2016

Differentiating Deference, Anya Bernstein

Journal Articles

When an administrative agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous statutory term is challenged in court, the Chevron doctrine instructs judges to evaluate whether it is reasonable. But how does a court know reasonableness when it sees it? Here, I first show that reasonableness review is more complex than it might seem. Contrary to common images, for instance, courts do not determine a range of reasonable interpretations; and that is a good thing, because they are not competent to do so. Moreover, because traditional statutory interpretation approaches presume the existence of one correct meaning for a given word, they are not well …