Advanced Interpretation: Law and Language

Advanced Interpretation: Law and Language

Justice Thomas Lee
Fall 2020 seminar
Th, F 1:00pm - 3:00pm
2 classroom credits

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam
Student performance will be assessed on the basis of class participation (15%) and a paper submitted at the end of the semester (85%).

This seminar invites students to explore the theory and practice of interpretation in public law. We will begin with an introduction to the field of law and language—considering both legal and linguistic scholarship of relevance to the practice of legal interpretation. And we will extend this scholarship to an in-depth, comparative analysis of the law’s approach to interpretation in the fields of constitutional law and legislation.

In each of these fields students will first be presented with legal scholarship on the premises of interpretation in that field. We will then explore tools of interpretation that may be used to resolve the interpretive problems that arise in each field. Among other tools, students will be introduced to methods used by linguists (including corpus linguistic analysis). Student performance will be assessed on the basis of class participation (15%) and a paper submitted at the end of the semester (85%).

Each student will write a paper (a) developing a theory of constitutional or statutory interpretation, (b) outlining methods of operationalizing the proposed theory, and (c) applying the methodology to a problem of constitutional or statutory interpretation. Sample problems will be suggested in class. Students may also select their own problem.

Note: This seminar will meet on the following dates: 9/10, 9/17, 9/18, 10/1, 10/2, 10/15, 10/22, 10/23, 11/5, 11/6, 11/19, 11/20

Subject Areas: Constitutional Law & Civil Rights, Legal & Political Theory