Judging Statutes

Paperback | April 1, 2016

byRobert A. Katzmann

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In an ideal world, the laws of Congress--known as federal statutes--would always be clearly worded and easily understood by the judges tasked with interpreting them. But many laws feature ambiguous or even contradictory wording. How, then, should judges divine their meaning? Should they stickonly to the text? To what degree, if any, should they consult aids beyond the statutes themselves? Are the purposes of lawmakers in writing law relevant?Some judges, such as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, believe courts should look to the language of the statute and virtually nothing else. Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit respectfully disagrees. In Judging Statutes, Katzmann, who is a trainedpolitical scientist as well as a judge, argues that our constitutional system charges Congress with enacting laws; therefore, how Congress makes its purposes known through both the laws themselves and reliable accompanying materials should be respected. He looks at how the American government works,including how laws come to be and how various agencies construe legislation. He then explains the judicial process of interpreting and applying these laws through the demonstration of two interpretative approaches, purposivism (focusing on the purpose of a law) and textualism (focusing solely on thetext of the written law). Katzmann draws from his experience to show how this process plays out in the real world, and concludes with some suggestions to promote understanding between the courts and Congress.When courts interpret the laws of Congress, they should be mindful of how Congress actually functions, how lawmakers signal the meaning of statutes, and what those legislators expect of courts construing their laws. The legislative record behind a law is in truth part of its foundation, andtherefore merits consideration.

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In an ideal world, the laws of Congress--known as federal statutes--would always be clearly worded and easily understood by the judges tasked with interpreting them. But many laws feature ambiguous or even contradictory wording. How, then, should judges divine their meaning? Should they stickonly to the text? To what degree, if any, sh...

Robert A. Katzmann is Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The only jurist in the federal courts with a Ph.D in political science, throughout his career he has been concerned about how to make government function more effectively. At the time of his appointment to the federal bench, he was the Walsh...

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Courts And Congress

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:192 pagesPublished:April 1, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190263296

ISBN - 13:9780190263294

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Introduction2. Congress and the Lawmaking Process3. Congress and Agencies: Interpreting and Implementing Statutes4. Judicial Interpretation of Statutes5. Some Cases I Have Decided6. Promoting Understanding7. ConclusionAPPENDIX A: Selected Commentary Over the Law Three Decades by Federal Judges on Statutory ConstructionAPPENDIX B: Selected Commentary Since 1997 Addressing Statutory InterpretationAcknowledgments

Editorial Reviews

"[Katzmann] can legitimately lay claim to greater knowledge and savvy than perhaps any sitting judge about how Congress actually writes laws and how the judicial branch reads and misreads them . . . Katzmann's crisply argued volume, Judging Statutes, has already attracted serious attention onthe left and right." -Simon Lazarus, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas