Statutory Interpretation in Econotopia

Nathan B. Oman

William & Mary Law School

Pace Law Review, Vol. 25, pp. 49-89, 2005

Much of the debate in the recent revival of interest in statutory interpretation centers on whether or not courts should use legislative history in construing statutes. The consensus in favor of this practice has come under sharp attack from public choice critics who argue that traditional models of legislative intent are positively and normatively incoherent. This paper argues that in actual practice, courts look at a fairly narrow subset of legislative history. By thinking about the power to write that legislative history as a property right and legislatures as markets, it is actually possible to use Coase's Theorem and the concept of Pareto optimality to justify current judicial practice. However, such a justification suggests that certain aspects of current practice should be changed.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 43

Keywords: statutory interpetation, legislative history, textualism, law and public choice, law

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Date posted: March 1, 2006 ; Last revised: September 16, 2008

Suggested Citation

Oman, Nathan B., Statutory Interpretation in Econotopia. Pace Law Review, Vol. 25, pp. 49-89, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=691401

Contact Information

Nathan B. Oman (Contact Author)
William & Mary Law School ( email )
South Henry Street
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States
HOME PAGE: http://nboman.people.wm.edu
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