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Spring 2023 Seminar

Statutes and Justice

Prerequisite: None

Exam Type: No Exam

The principal controversy in modern statutory construction is the debate between purposivists and textualists. But these opponents in fact share many qualities, in particular, the view that what we seek to be are faithful agents of the legislature. In such a quest, general considerations of justice seem irrelevant. By contrast, when we try to solve common law problems, considerations of justice, although not the only considerations, are clearly relevant and sometimes predominate. Can we legitimately apply this aspect of common law reasoning to statutory interpretation? That is the question this seminar proposes to pursue. This is a new seminar. All members of the group will be expected to lead sessions and write papers tackling one aspect or another of the possible use of common law reasoning in interpreting particular statutes.