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Eagan, Minnesota, U.S.A. - Best-selling authors and “textualist” authorities Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Bryan A. Garner have released their seminal treatise on deriving the meaning of authoritative texts: Reading Law: The Legal Interpretation of Texts, published by Thomson Reuters.
The publication of this book is momentous: it’s the first publication by a Supreme Court Justice in more than 140 years detailing a fully elaborated philosophy of judicial decision making.
Citing and analyzing several hundred judicial decisions, Scalia and Garner guide the reader through what they consider the most important principles of constitutional, statutory, and contractual interpretation. The authors challenge readers to think differently about the law by posing questions that perplex, enlighten, and reveal: Is a corporation entitled to personal privacy? If you trade a gun for drugs, are you “using a gun” in a drug transaction? If it’s illegal to “lay hands on” a priest, is it acceptable to kick him?
“Sometimes important legal questions come in surprising packages,” said Professor Garner. “The question ‘Is a burrito a sandwich?’ for instance, invokes the issue, ‘What would a competent user of the English language say?’ A Massachusetts court decided the question correctly: a burrito is no sandwich.”
Said Justice Scalia: “The goal in posing these unique yet fundamental questions in our new book is to help attorneys better understand how to present a client’s case to the judiciary by better understanding how judges interpret cases. This clarity serves us as citizens and lends a level of transparency to the American legal system that supports the rule of law.”
Scalia and Garner explore many of the most controversial issues in modern jurisprudence, such as: Which is more important, the spirit of the law or the letter of the law? Why is strict construction a bad thing? What is the true doctrine of “originalism”? How old is the doctrine and what are its limits?
Justice Scalia, with 25 years of service on the U.S. Supreme Court, is the foremost expositor of textualism in the world today. Bryan A. Garner, as editor in chief of Black’s Law Dictionary and author of Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage, is the most renowned expert on the language of the law. Together they explore the scholarly, substantive, and sublime dimensions of judging with wit and deep insight, reprising the formula they used in their popular 2008 collaboration, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.
Image Courtesy of Mission Geneva