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Legislation
University of Mississippi School of Law
Hall, Matthew R.

LegislationProfessor Matthew R. Hall
 
I. Inroduction
 
A. Most Areas of Law Are Statutory b/c of Codification Movements
        1. Criminal Law
        2. Contract Law
        3. Evidence Law
        4. Professional Responsibility
        5. Civil Procedure
 
B.                    Programmatic Legislation
1.                  dominant form of legislation today, started with the New Deal
2.                  consists of public law that cannot be formulated or promulgated by the courts
3.                  deals with the establishment of agencies and assignment of tasks
4.                  legislature seeks to occupy the entire field it regulates, no room for other lawmaking in an area
5.                  requires a thorough knowledge of the area to be regulated
 
C.   Your Future Role
1.      Reading and Interpreting Statutes
a.       as advocate
b.      as advisor
c.       as adjudicator
 
D.       Writing Statutes
a.  as legislator
b.   as drafter
c.   as lobbyist
E.        Statutory Reform/Codification Movements
1.      legislation has become the primary vehicle for making law, virtually all cases rest on statutes
2.      Courts now interpret rather than create law
3.      lawyers trained in case law method may have difficulty predicting the effect of proposed or newly enacted legislation because the lawyer must take the legal rule and create a factual situation
F.         Judicial Superiority
            1.         Judicial Supremacy
                  a. constitutional interpretation
            2.         Judicial Review
                  a. of statutes for constitutionality
G.        Legislative Supremacy v. Legislative Superiority
            1.         Statutory Displacement of Common Law
            2.         Judiciary’s Obligation to Follow Statutes
            3.         Legislative Control of Jurisdiction of court
            4.         But
                        a. Judiciary’s Ability to Interpret Statutes
                        b. Separation of Powers
H.        Statutes vs. Common Law
            1.     Attributes of Statutes
a.    comprehensive/general
b.   revolutionary/adaptable
c.    no limit to / need for info
d.   created because of interest
e.    open to public
f.    deliberation in public
g.   advance notice
h.   prospective (generally)
 i. accompanied by commentary
       j. rule is manifest
                   k. product of compromise
        l. policy – political / subjective
2.      Attributes of C/L
a.    ad hoc / fact-specific
b.   evolutionary/stable
c.    limited to record
d.   created because of events
e.    open to parties
f.    deliberation in secret
g.   no advance notice
h.   retrospective to parties
                   i. decision speaks for itself
       j. rule may be latent
       k. product of reason
        l. reasoned / objective
 
I.     How Should Courts Deal With Statutes? What Is the Issue?
1.         Historic judicial hostility to legislative law
2.         We recognize that courts have been disinclined to extend statutes modifying the common law beyond the direct operation of the words used, and that at times this disinclination has been carried very far. Oliver Wendell Holmes
3.         Cts. interpret stat. narrowly but use an expansive CL b/c they believe statutes are political and therefore inferior to rationally reasoned CL
4.         Four Options
a.       receive statute fully into the body of law as affording not only a rule to be applied but a principle from which to reason and hold it as an expression of the general will
b.      receive it into the body of law but regard it as of equal or coordinate authority with judge made rule
c.       refuse to receive it fully into the body of law, refusing to reason from it by analogy and giving it a liberal interpretation
d.      refuse to reason from it and interpret it narrowly, limiting its application
 
5.      Statutes in Derogation of the Common Law Are to Be Narrowly Construed
a.       Interpretive Canon
 
6.      Statutes as Precedents
a.       precedent = direct / binding authority
                                                                          i.      not controversial
b.      precedent = persuasive authority
                                                                          i.      = basis for reasoning by analogy
                                                                        ii.      controversial
c.       Why Important?
                                                                          i.      should the legislature influence the evolution of the common law?
7.  If Statutes Are Precedents, Can They Be Overturned?
J. Lifecycle of Statutes
1.  Bill
2.  Engrossed bill-final version acted on by both chambers of legislature
3.   Enrolled bill-passed by legislature, sent to executive
4.   Slip law-executive signature / veto override / lapse of time
5.   Statutes at large / session laws-all laws enacted during particular legislative session
6.   Code-collection / organization of operational provisions
 
K. A Statute vs. A Code
1.  Consolidation & Collection of All Permanent Laws in Force
a.   U.S.C.
i. U.S.C. Prepared and Published by Office of the Law Revision Counsel, United States House of Representatives
b.   State Code Ann.
            2.   Multiple Meanings of “Statute “
                  a.         act
                  b.         provision of code
               i.       general
               ii.      section
 
           3.    What Does an Act Do to the Code?
           a.          add new provisions to code
           b.          amend, repeal, or renumber existing provisions of code
 
           4.          Which Is the Law?
                       a.          1 U.S.C. § 112-Statutes at Large provides legal evidence of the law                                                           b.       USC is prima facie evidence of the law
 
II. Interpretation Based on Text: Plain Meaning & Dictionaries
A. Plain Meaning
1.  Follow the plain meaning of the statutory text unless it leads to an absurd result or contains a scrivener’s error
2. But what if statute has no plain meaning? Ambiguity
B. How does a court go about ascertaining ambiguity?
1. look only to words
2. look to anything intrinsic to statute / statutory scheme
3. context, other provisions, etc.
4. look at outside the statute but only at other statutes
5. look anywhere
C. Replay of the famous debate between Williston and Corbin in contracts over determining ambiguity in a contract
1. may court receive parole evidence?
2. intrinsic vs. extrinsic evidence  
                  a. Corbin = consider extrinsic
                  b. Williston = intrinsic only
D. Causes of interpretive problems
1. Poor drafting
2. imprecise language
3. intentional vagueness
4. unanticipated effects
5. evolution in real or Stat. world
6. Complexity
7. Conflict with other provisions
8. Savvy Lawyer
E. Presumption of

s
D. Intentionalism / Purposivism
1. interpret statute to effectuate intent / purpose of legislature
2. judiciary fulfills its proper role when it obeys legislative intent / purpose
3. text possesses no meaning independent of its intent / purpose
a. statute always ought to be presumed to be the work of a reasonable man
b. the general words of a statute ought never to be read as directing an irrational pattern of particular applications
c. what constitutes an irregular pattern ought to be judged in the light of the overriding and organizing purpose
4. Evidence of Intent
E. Kinds of Intent
1. Specific Intent
a. legislative intent regarding a specific word or phrase
i. often requires “imaginative reconstruction”
ii. specific intent supplies a precise answer
2. General Intent or Purpose
a. legislative intent regarding statute as whole and the problem (the “mischief” or “evil”) the legislature hopes the statute will address
i. the goal of the statute
b.      purpose helps court pick answer that achieves goal
F. Difficulties With Legislative Intent
1. Legislative Intent as a Fiction
a. aggregation of intent of individual members
b. to whom do we attribute the intent
c. there are a variety of interest behind legislation
2. Nature of the Legislative Process
a. compromise
b. politics
3. Limits on Foreseeability
4. Proof
G. Levels of intent going from most persuasive to least
                        1.         Text
                                    a.         substantive provision
                                    b.         statement of purpose
                                    c.         related provision
                                    d.         analougous provisions
                        2.         Statutory History
                        3.         Legislative history
H. Dynamism- belief that leg. knows when it passes a stat. that it is not fixed and that it will grow and evolve
1. interpret the statute to reflect changing social and legal context and conditions
2. judiciary fulfills its proper role with regard to statutes if it interprets a statute based on the law’s implementation and its current understanding
3. text of statute constitutes a starting point in a legitimate process of evolution involving the courts, the executive, administrative agencies, and the legislature
IV. Interpretation Based on Legislative History
A. Legislative Process in a Nutshell Legislative History
1. Documents (records) produced by legislature as it considered statute
B. Why legislative history?
1. search for ambiguity
2. search for meaning of text
3. search for intent & purpose
C. Hierarchy of Legislative History
1.   amendments to the statute- many don’t consider leg. hist.
2.  committee report
a. important b/c committee is official