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07/17/2019

Adam Carrington on Scalia's Influence
Michael Ramsey

At the American Spectator, Adam Carrington (Hillsdale College, Politics): Reading Law: Justice Scalia’s Other Legacy.  From the introduction:

Since his death in February of 2016, Scalia’s influence of course continues through his three decades of judicial opinions. But he still exerts great influence in another, less-discussed way. In 2012, he co-authored the book Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts with Bryan A. Garner. This work describes numerous “canons,” or rules regarding how to interpret legal documents.

In so describing these canons, Scalia and Garner provide a defense of and a handbook for textualism, an approach to legal interpretation that “in its purest form, begins and ends with what the text says and fairly implies.”

And from later on:

Focusing just on this spring’s Supreme Court, we see Scalia’s influence at work. For example, Canon 27 in the book says we should respect the rule of law by reading statutes as internally consistent. This stops judges from rewriting laws to suit themselves. This position came up in Department of Commerce v. New York, which asked whether the Secretary of Commerce could include a citizenship question on the 2020 census. Justice Breyer wrote an opinion arguing that relevant statutes required the secretary where possible to use sampling of the population rather than a direct head count. Justice Samuel Alito rejects this reading by citing Canon 27. Breyer’s reading, he argues, made the law contradictory, giving the secretary at the same time discretion to choose counting methods and requiring him to use one method in particular.

The post continues with other recent examples from the Court.

(Via SCOTUSblog).