Can Legislatures Constrain Judicial Interpretation of Statutes?

35 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2010

Date Written: 1989


An aspect of the battle over deconstruction is whether resort to legislative intent might help to determine the content of a statutory text that otherwise, in splendid isolation, could be deconstructed by simply positing different interpretive contexts. I examine the same issue by recounting my own quest for determinate meaning in statutes - a sort of personal legislative history. I do not claim for jurisprudence the role of ensuring faithful reception of the legislature's message, for that is impossible. At best, jurisprudential theory only reduces the degrees of interpretive freedom, and then only probably, not necessarily. The more significant thesis of this article is that all theories of statutory interpretation can only do that much and no more.

Keywords: Legislative Intent, Statutory Interpretation, Jurisprudence, Deconstruction, Doctrinalists

JEL Classification: K30, K40, K49

Suggested Citation

D'Amato, Anthony, Can Legislatures Constrain Judicial Interpretation of Statutes? (1989). Virginia Law Review, Vol. 75, 1989; Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 10-41. Available at SSRN:

Anthony D'Amato (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics