He says it is rare that a judge will baldly state that he is imposing his own view of what the law should be. Instead, they employ rules of statutory construction and presumptions and most importantly their interpretation of the legislative intent to determine the meaning of a given law. Scalia says that rules of statutory construction can legitimately be used to construe the meaning of an ambiguous statute when they are based on common sense but not when they are artificial rules that bear little connection with reality.
d. Scalia is adamantly opposed to using 'legislative history' as an authoritative indication of a statute's meaning" (pp. 29-30). As an example of this abuse, he cites the Supreme Court case of Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457 (1892). In that case, a federal statute made it illegal to import anyone to perform a labor or service in the United States. The Court ruled the statute did not apply to an imported preacher because moral purposes, legislative history, etc. should take precedence over its literal wording. He quotes Harvard Law Professor James Landis for the proposition that "the gravest sins are perpetrated in the name of the intent of the legislature" (p. 18). Often he points out that it is extremely difficult, even impossible in many cases, to determine what the legislative intent was and that the views even of a key committee are not necessarily those of the majority which enacted the statute.
e. In Scalia's view, the only sound and objective basis for construing the meaning of a law is to give it the meaning its words give it. In defending textualism, Scalia denies that he advocates pursuing literal meanings which make no sense. "A text should not be construed strictly . . . it should be construed reasonably, to contain all that it fairly means" (p. 23). "Words do have a range of meanings, and no interpretation that goes beyond that range is permissible" (p. 24). If reference i...
Justice Scalia. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 02:59, November 24, 2014, from http://www.collegetermpapers.com/viewpaper/1303812109.html