Counter-Intuitive Consequences of "Plain Meaning"

49 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2013

Date Written: June 26, 1991


One of the most currently popular ideas in jurisprudence is that legal rules should be interpreted according to their plain or ordinary meaning. A boost has been given to this position by Justice Scalia in his decisions and addresses. The plain meaning approach fits hand-in-glove with legal formalism, defined by Frederick Schauer as characterizing a decision-maker who, “reaches the result indicated by some legal rule, independent of that decision-maker's own best judgment, and independent of the result that might be reached by direct application of the justifications lying behind the rule.”

Keywords: rules, statutes

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K19, K40

Suggested Citation

D'Amato, Anthony, Counter-Intuitive Consequences of "Plain Meaning" (June 26, 1991). 33 Arizona Law Review 529 (1991); Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 13-24. Available at SSRN:

Anthony D'Amato (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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