A Matter of Interpretation

A Matter of Interpretation : Federal Courts and the Law

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In this essay, Judge Antonin Scalia argues that the common-law mindset, although approriate in its place, is not suitable for statutory and constitutional interpretation. In exploring the neglected art of statutory interpretation, he urges judges to resist the temptation to use legislative intention and legislative history. In his view, it is incompatible with democratic government to allow the meaning of a statute to be determined by what the judges think the lawyers meant, rather than by what the legislature actually promulgated. He argues that eschewing the judicial lawmaking that is the essence of common law, judges should interpret statutes and regulations by focusing on the text itself. Scalia proposes that the notion of an ever-changing Constitution is abandoned and that attention is paid to the Constitution's original meaning. Although not subscribing to the "strict constitutionalism" that would prevent applying the Constitution to modern circumstances, Scalia emphatically rejects the idea that judges can properly "smuggle" in new rights or deny old rights by using the Due Process Clause, for instance. In fact, such judicial discretion might lead to the destruction of the Bshow more

Product details

  • Hardback | 128 pages
  • 162.3 x 241.8 x 20.3mm | 430.92g
  • Princeton University Press
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 0691026300
  • 9780691026305

Review quote

""A Matter of Interpretation" demonstrates both the attraction of Scalia's 'textualist' theory and his qualities as a judicial statesman. . . [His] elegant essay, the most concise and accessible presentation of his views, argues eloquently that judicial authority can only be based on the statutory or constitutional text."--Michael Greve, "Reason"show more

About Antonin Scalia

Antonin Scalia has been an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court since 1986. Prior to that time, he served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.show more

Rating details

447 ratings
3.79 out of 5 stars
5 25% (111)
4 39% (175)
3 29% (128)
2 5% (23)
1 2% (10)
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