The last decade has been a remarkable one for statutory interpretation. For most of our history, American judges have been pragmatists when it comes to interpreting statutes. They have drawn on various conventions – the plain meaning rule, legislative history, considerations of statutory purpose, canons of construction – "much as a golfer selects the proper club when he gauges the distance to the pin and the contours of the course." The arrival of Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court has changed this. Justice Scalia is a foundationalist, insisting that certain interpretational tools should be permanently banned from judicial use. What is more, Justice Scalia is sufficiently committed to his views about legal method that he often declines to join other Justice's opinions that employ improper methods. This unyielding stance, reinforced by the appointment of Justice Thomas, who appears to share similar convictions, is producing a major transformation in the way the Supreme Court approaches a statutory interpretation cases.
Thomas W. Merrill,
Textualism and the Future of the Chevron Doctrine,
Wash. U. L. Q.
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