Definitions, Ordinary Meaning, and Respect for the Legislature

in The Language of Statutes

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780226767963
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226767987 | DOI:
Definitions, Ordinary Meaning, and Respect for the Legislature

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  • Constitutional and Administrative Law


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This chapter considers important statutory interpretation cases as instances of grappling with borderline instances of word meaning. It discusses the differences between the textual and contextual interpretation of statutes and explains that the principal goal of the statutory interpreter is to be loyal to the legislator. This chapter also highlights the fact that most judges and scholars agree that some combination of extrinsic evidence, consequentialist reasoning and substantive values should be considered when the language of the statute does not yield a clear answer. It also expresses support for the use of legislative history in statutory interpretation.

Keywords: word meaning; textual interpretation; contextual interpretation; judges; extrinsic evidence; consequentialist reasoning; substantive values; legislative history

Chapter.  13280 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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