Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Thought Provoking Law Quote: What is the Statutory Interpretation Process?

The quote below from respected legal commentators on procedure is somewhat disheartening to those who seek absolute predictability and objectivity in the legal system.  As we know, those qualities run only so deep.

“Do not expect anybody’s theory of statutory interpretation, whether it is your own or somebody else’s, to be an accurate statement of what courts actually do with statutes. The hard truth of the matter is that American courts have no intelligible, generally accepted, and consistently applied theory of statutory interpretation.”

-          Professors Hart and Sacks writing in The Legal Process.

In the case below, the Rule of the Last Antecedent may resolve the dispute, "if the Supreme Court decides to apply it."  Or the court may apply the Series Qualifier Cannon, which requires exactly the opposite interpretation from the Rule of the Last Antecedent. Or perhaps after failing to find clarity in the plain meaning of the text, the legislative intent or the public policy, the Court will just say, "Oh, the hell with it!" and apply the Rule of Lenity.  Or, maybe they won't. 

What is the difference between a statue and a statute?

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