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The Immorality of Textualism

Andrei Marmor

University of Southern California - Gould School of Law

Loyola Law Review, 2005

In this short essay I argue that textualism, as a doctrine of statutory interpretation, is inherently deceptive and therefore immoral. Textualism is typically presented by its adherents as an interpretive practice that is motivated by respect for democracy and respect for the authority of the legislature. But in fact, textualism's preoccupation with ordinary meaning and literal application of statutes is motivated by constraining the legislature's ability to pursue broad regulatory policies. Authorities do not want to be understood literally. Authorities purport to govern, and governance requires cooperation in the spirit of its goals, not strict adherence to the letter of its directives.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 20

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Date posted: March 25, 2005  

Suggested Citation

Marmor, Andrei, The Immorality of Textualism. Loyola Law Review, 2005. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=690346

Contact Information

Andrei Marmor (Contact Author)
University of Southern California - Gould School of Law ( email )
699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-821-5437 (Phone)
213-740-2551 (Fax)

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