Elected Judges and Statutory Interpretation
Aaron-Andrew P. Bruhl
William & Mary Law School
Ethan J. Leib
Fordham University School of Law
January 15, 2013
University of Chicago Law Review, vol. 79, p. 1215, 2012
Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2026284
U of Houston Law Center No. 2026284
This Article considers whether differences in methods of judicial selection should influence how judges approach statutory interpretation. Courts and scholars have not given this question much sustained attention, but most would probably embrace the “unified model,” according to which appointed judges (such as federal judges) and elected judges (such as many state judges) are supposed to approach statutory text in identical ways. There is much to be said for the unified model — and we offer the first systematic defense of it. But the Article also attempts to make the best case for the more controversial but also plausible contrary view: that elected judges and appointed judges should actually interpret statutes differently. We explain and defend that view and explore some of its implications and limits. We identify categories of cases in which the argument for interpretive divergence is at its strongest. We also show how the possibility of interpretive divergence might illuminate several specific doctrinal problems related to judicial federalism and judicial review of agency action.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 69
Keywords: statutory interpretation, legislation, legisprudence, judicial elections, state courts
Date posted: March 22, 2012 ; Last revised: January 16, 2013
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