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Statutory interpretation

Bankruptcy Law

Vanderbilt University Law School

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Textualism's Failures: A Study Of Overruled Bankruptcy Decisions, Daniel J. Bussel Apr 2000

Textualism's Failures: A Study Of Overruled Bankruptcy Decisions, Daniel J. Bussel

Vanderbilt Law Review

Judges and legal scholars are engaged in a contentious, wide- ranging, and long-running debate over methods of statutory interpretation. Stripping the debate of some of its nuance without misrepresenting its essence, there are two camps: the "textualists" and the "pragmatists." Cass Sunstein recently argued that the question of interpretive method should be considered in light of evidence whether textualist methods work better or worse than pragmatic ones. To date, however, only limited empirical evidence has been systematically brought to bear on this question.

This Article presents new empirical evidence gleaned from twenty years of interpretation of the United States Bankruptcy …