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The Language of StatutesLaws and Their Interpretation$
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Lawrence M. Solan

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780226767963

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226767987.001.0001

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Definitions, Ordinary Meaning, and Respect for the Legislature

Definitions, Ordinary Meaning, and Respect for the Legislature

Chapter:
(p.50) Chapter Three Definitions, Ordinary Meaning, and Respect for the Legislature
Source:
The Language of Statutes
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226767987.003.0003

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

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