Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=997924
 
 

Citations (3)



 
 

Footnotes (97)



 


 



What Statutes Mean: Interpretive Lessons from Positive Theories of Communication and Legislation


Cheryl Boudreau


University of California, Davis

Arthur Lupia


University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science

Mathew D. McCubbins


Duke University

Daniel B. Rodriguez


Northwestern University - School of Law


San Diego Law Review, Vol. 44, No. 2, 2007

Abstract:     
In this paper, we address a question that is hotly debated in the legal literature: How should judges interpret statutes? By way of an answer, we begin with two premises: 1) statutory interpretation is a quest by judges to determine what statutes mean, and 2) statutes are communications from a constitutionally-authorized legislature to those who are obligated to implement, enforce, or follow the law. We then argue that scientific propositions about human communication can help judges to determine what a statute's authors meant when they chose to include (or not to include) particular words in a piece of legislation. Specifically, we draw upon well-known communication theories, which emphasize that successful inference about meaning requires that the manner in which a communication is decoded relate to aspects of its manufacture in particular ways. What this insight suggests for scholars of statutory interpretation (and for judges interpreting statutes) is that discerning the meaning of any piece of legislation requires an understanding of the ways that such legislation was manufactured throughout the legislative process. This insight also provides important clues about the kinds of informational sources that can be useful to those who want to clarify the meaning of a statute.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 51

Keywords: statutory interpretation, communication, legislation, statute, intentionalism

JEL Classification: K10, K19, K49

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: July 5, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Boudreau, Cheryl and Lupia, Arthur and McCubbins, Mathew D. and Rodriguez, Daniel B., What Statutes Mean: Interpretive Lessons from Positive Theories of Communication and Legislation. San Diego Law Review, Vol. 44, No. 2, 2007. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=997924

Contact Information

Cheryl Boudreau (Contact Author)
University of California, Davis ( email )
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States
Arthur Lupia
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science ( email )
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States
734-647-7549 (Phone)
734-764-3341 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: www.umich.edu/~lupia
Mathew D. McCubbins
Duke University ( email )
Department of Political Science
208 Gross Hall, 140 Science Drive
Durham, NC 27708
United States
(213) 973-7538 (Phone)
(213) 973-3623 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://mccubbins.us
Daniel B. Rodriguez
Northwestern University - School of Law ( email )
375 E. Chicago Ave
Unit 1505
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 2,027
Downloads: 310
Download Rank: 54,193
Citations:  3
Footnotes:  97

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo8 in 0.375 seconds