Curriculum Guide · Courses
Legislation and Statutory Interpretation
Professors Nourse and Westmoreland
J.D. Course 304 | 3 credit hours
Although the common law may form the basic foundation of American law, statutes now control much of contemporary governance and practice. Because they can be ambiguous, archaic, or applied to unexpected situations, these statutes necessarily require interpretation by courts. While the statutes themselves may deal with matters as diverse as taxation, discrimination, or pollution, there is a set of common tools employed by courts to discern the meaning of any of these laws. This course will introduce students to observant reading of statutory text and to these common tools of statutory interpretation. The course will use cases that deal with a variety of laws in a variety of fields, focusing not on what any one of them means but rather on how a court finds that meaning. This general knowledge of how to read and interpret legislation should be valuable in other, more specialized law school courses involving statutes, as well as in later legal work.
Students may not receive credit for both this course and the first-year elective, Lawmaking: Introduction to Statutory and Regulatory Interpretation.