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Full-Text Articles in Law

Are They All Textualists Now?, Austin Peters Mar 2024

Are They All Textualists Now?, Austin Peters

Northwestern University Law Review

Recent developments at the U.S. Supreme Court have rekindled debates over textualism. Missing from the conversation is a discussion of the courts that decide the vast majority of statutory interpretation cases in the United States—state courts. This Article uses supervised machine learning to conduct the first-ever empirical study of the statutory interpretation methods used by state supreme courts. In total, this study analyzes over 44,000 opinions from all fifty states from 1980 to 2019.

This Article establishes several key descriptive findings. First, since the 1980s, textualism has risen rapidly in state supreme court opinions. Second, this rise is primarily attributable …


Medical Necessity Of Residential Treatment For Anorexia: Can Parity Be Achieved?, Abbey Derechin Apr 2022

Medical Necessity Of Residential Treatment For Anorexia: Can Parity Be Achieved?, Abbey Derechin

Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy

This Note examines the statutory landscape of mental health parity in the United States. The lens of this Note is through the mental illness of anorexia. Parity laws mandate analogous limitations between mental and physical illness. Therefore, because anorexia has many physical manifestations, it serves as a nice juxtaposition to physical illnesses. This Note will argue for broad interpretation of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) through comparative analysis of counterpart statute, the California Mental Health Parity Act (CMHPA). It will explore how courts have interpreted the CMHPA broadly to suggest that the MHPAEA should be interpreted …


The Case Against Prosecuting Refugees, Evan J. Criddle Nov 2020

The Case Against Prosecuting Refugees, Evan J. Criddle

Northwestern University Law Review

Within the past several years, the U.S. Department of Justice has pledged to prosecute asylum-seekers who enter the United States outside an official port of entry without inspection. This practice has contributed to mass incarceration and family separation at the U.S.–Mexico border, and it has prevented bona fide refugees from accessing relief in immigration court. Yet, federal judges have taken refugee prosecution in stride, assuming that refugees, like other foreign migrants, are subject to the full force of American criminal justice if they skirt domestic border controls. This assumption is gravely mistaken.

This Article shows that Congress has not authorized …


The Statutory Interpretation Muddle, Richard H. Fallon, Jr. Oct 2019

The Statutory Interpretation Muddle, Richard H. Fallon, Jr.

Northwestern University Law Review

Debates about statutory interpretation typically proceed on the assumption that statutes have linguistic meanings that we can identify in the same way that we identify the meaning of utterances in ordinary conversation. But that premise is false. We identify the meaning of conversational utterances largely based on inferences about what the speaker intended to communicate. With legislatures, as now is widely recognized, there is no unitary speaker with the sort of communicative intentions that speakers in ordinary conversation possess. One might expect this recognition to trigger abandonment of the model of conversational interpretation as a framework for interpreting statutes. Instead, …


A Means To An Element: The Supreme Court's Modified Categorical Approach After Mathis V. United States, Michael Mcgivney Jan 2017

A Means To An Element: The Supreme Court's Modified Categorical Approach After Mathis V. United States, Michael Mcgivney

Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology

No abstract provided.


The Scrivener’S Error, Ryan D. Doerfler Jun 2016

The Scrivener’S Error, Ryan D. Doerfler

Northwestern University Law Review

It is widely accepted that courts may correct legislative drafting mistakes, i.e., so-called scrivener’s errors, if and only if such mistakes are “absolutely clear.” The rationale is that if a court were to recognize a less clear error, it might be “rewriting” the statute rather than correcting a technical mistake.

This Article argues that the standard is much too strict. The current rationale ignores that courts can “rewrite,” i.e., misinterpret, a statute both by recognizing an error and by failing to do so. Accordingly, because the current doctrine is designed to protect against one type of mistake (false positives) but …


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

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

Northwestern University Law Review

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 …


What A History Of Tax Withholding Tells Us About The Relationship Between Statutes And Constitutional Law, Anuj C. Desai Jan 2015

What A History Of Tax Withholding Tells Us About The Relationship Between Statutes And Constitutional Law, Anuj C. Desai

Northwestern University Law Review

No abstract provided.


Can Legislatures Constrain Judicial Interpretation Of Statutes?, Anthony D'Amato Jan 2010

Can Legislatures Constrain Judicial Interpretation Of Statutes?, Anthony D'Amato

Faculty Working Papers

An aspect of the battle over deconstruction is whether resort to legislative intent might help to determine the content of a statutory text that otherwise, in splendid isolation, could be deconstructed by simply positing different interpretive contexts. I examine the same issue by recounting my own quest for determinate meaning in statutes—a sort of personal legislative history. I do not claim for jurisprudence the role of ensuring faithful reception of the legislature's message, for that is impossible. At best, jurisprudential theory only reduces the degrees of interpretive freedom, and then only probably, not necessarily. The more significant thesis of this …