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11/10/2021

Jeffrey Goldsworthy: The Meaning and Interpretation of Statutes in Anglo-American Legal Systems
Michael Ramsey

Jeffrey Denys Goldsworthy (Monash University - Faculty of Law) has posted The Meaning and Interpretation of Statutes in Anglo-American Legal Systems (Tomasz Gizbert-Studnicki, Francesca Poggi, Izabela Skoczeń, eds, "Interpretivism and the Limits of Law" (Edward Elgar, 2022)) (22 pages) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This book chapter provides an overview of the meaning and interpretation of statutes in Anglo-American legal systems. It first explains how statute law is based on the constitutional doctrine of legislative supremacy, in the UK, the US and elsewhere. It then shows that statutory meaning is largely, but not entirely, constituted by the meaning that the legislature apparently intended to communicate, given readily available evidence of its intentions. The interpretation of statutes is first and foremost devoted to ascertaining that meaning. But judges also exercise creative powers, guided by distinctively legal, and moral/political, considerations, (a) to supplement that meaning when it is insufficiently determinate to resolve the legal dispute at hand, and (b) in limited circumstances, to correct or “rectify” that meaning in order to fulfil the legislature’s likely purposes or presumed standing commitments. In other words, fidelity to legislative supremacy sometimes justifies departures from the precise communicative contents of statutes. The chapter argues that the canons or presumptions of interpretation are best explained by these different aspects of the interpretive process.