Statutory and Common Law Interpretation by Kent GreenawaltStatutory and Common Law Interpretation by Kent Greenawalt

Statutory and Common Law Interpretation

byKent Greenawalt

Hardcover | November 26, 2012

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 317 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


As Kent Greenwalt's second volume on aspects of legal interpretation, this book analyzes statutory and common law interpretation and compares the two. In respect to statutory interpretation, it first asks whether judges are "faithful agents" of the legislature or "independent cooperativepartners." It concludes that the obvious answer is that neither simple categorization really fits - that the function of judges involves a combination of roles. The next issue addressed is whether the intent of those in authority matters for interpreting the kinds of instructions contained instatutes. At the general level, the answer is "yes." This answer follows even if one thinks interpretation should concentrate on the understanding of readers, because readers themselves would treat intentions as part of the relevant context of the language of statutes. It would take some specialreasons, such as constitutional structure or unreliability, to discount actual intents of legislators and use of legislative history. The book argues that none of these special reasons are convincing. On the question whether judges should focus on the language of specific provision or overallpurpose, both are relevant, and purpose should become more important as time passes. In an analysis of various other features of statutory interpretation, the book claims that presidential signing statements should not have weight, that subsequent legislative actions short of new statutes shouldonly occasionally carry importance, that "canons of interpretation," such as the rule of lenity, can provide some, limited, guidance, and that there are special reasons for courts to adhere to precedents in statutory cases, but these should not yield any absolute rule. A chapter on administrativeinterpretation of statutes claims that the standards agencies apply should differ to a degree from those of courts and that judicial deference to those interpretations is ordinarily warranted.The book's second part, on common law interpretation, considers the force of precedents, resisting any simple dichotomy between holding and dictum. It also defends the use of reasoning by analogy, not only in the initial stages thinking about a problem, but also in respect to some finaljustifications for decisions. An examination of the place of rules, principles, and policies argues that all three are relevant in common law interpretation; and shows that common law interpretation is not reducible to any formula.A final chapter compares statutory and common law interpretation, similarities and differences, how each can affect the other, and the significance of having a legal system in which they both play prominent roles.
Kent Greenawalt is University Professor at Columbia University, teaching at Columbia Law School. His publications include Religion and the Constitution, Vol. 1, Free Exercise and Fairness; Religion and the Constitution, Vol. 2, Establishment and Fairness; Conflicts of Law and Morality; Religious Convictions and Political Choice; Speech...
Title:Statutory and Common Law InterpretationFormat:HardcoverDimensions:384 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:November 26, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199756147

ISBN - 13:9780199756148

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

1. IntroductionPart I: Statutory Interpretation2. Judges as Faithful Agents or Independent, Cooperative Actors?3. The Basic Core of Statutory Interpretation: Text and Intent4. The Place of Legislative History, and Purpose v. Specific Meanings5. What Else Counts, and Should Count, for Statutory Interpretation?Executive Participation, Subsequent Legislative History, Independent Principles of Decision, Prior Judicial Interpretation, the Passage of Time, and Legislative Direction6. Administrative Interpretation and the Complications It Reveals7. Some Central Questions about Common Law Decisions8. Precedent: Importance and Context9. Reasoning by Analogy10. Other Bases for Decision: Principles and Consequential Considerations11. Comparisons and Conclusions