Textualism and the Executive Branch

42 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2009

See all articles by Glen Staszewski

Glen Staszewski

Michigan State University College of Law

Date Written: January 22, 2009


This contribution to a Symposium on Administrative Statutory Interpretation examines the applicability of textualism to the executive branch. It claims that contrary to the conventional wisdom, the primary theoretical arguments for the new textualism apply with full force to statutory interpretation by administrative agencies and most other executive officials. It also points out, however, that proponents of the new textualism have endorsed a variety of legal doctrines that increase executive power in ways that are incompatible with textualist theory. The Article claims that recent efforts by prominent textualists to explain the apparent tension between their theories of executive and judicial power are either beside the point or unpersuasive. It therefore concludes that their broader legal theory, which simultaneously embraces the new textualism and unbridled executive discretion, is fundamentally incoherent.

Keywords: textualism, statutory interpretation, executive branch, administrative law, separation of powers

Suggested Citation

Staszewski, Glen, Textualism and the Executive Branch (January 22, 2009). Michigan State Law Review, Vol. 2009, pp.143-183, 2009, MSU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 06-21, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1331461

Glen Staszewski (Contact Author)

Michigan State University College of Law ( email )

420 Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300
United States
517-432-6888 (Phone)
517-432-6879 (Fax)

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