Dynamic Statutory Interpretation

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Harvard University Press, 1994 - 438 pages
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Contrary to traditional theories of statutory interpretation, which ground statutes in the original legislative text or intent, legal scholar William Eskridge argues that statutory interpretation changes in response to new political alignments, new interpreters, and new ideologies. It does so, first of all, because it involves richer authoritative texts than does either common law or constitutional interpretation: statutes are often complex and have a detailed legislative history. Second, Congress can, and often does, rewrite statutes when it disagrees with their interpretations; and agencies and courts attend to current as well as historical congressional preferences when they interpret statutes. Third, since statutory interpretation is as much agency-centered as judgecentered and since agency executives see their creativity as more legitimate than judges see theirs, statutory interpretation in the modern regulatory state is particularly dynamic.

Eskridge also considers how different normative theories of jurisprudence--liberal, legal process, and antiliberal--inform debates about statutory interpretation. He explores what theory of statutory interpretation--if any--is required by the rule of law or by democratic theory. Finally, he provides an analytical and jurisprudential history of important debates on statutory interpretation.

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Contents

The Practice of Dynamic Statutory Interpretation
9
Jurisprudential Theories for Reading Statutes Dynamically
107
Doctrinal Implications of Dynamic Statutory Jurisprudence
205
The Primary Legislative Inaction Precedents 19621992
309
Supreme Court Decisions Overruling Statutory
316
The Rehnquist Courts Canons of Statutory Construction
323
Notes
335
Index
429
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About the author (1994)

William N. Eskridge, Jr. is Professor of Law at Yale Law School.

William N. Eskridge, Jr. is Professor of Law at Yale Law School.

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