Judicial Interpretation and Social Science in the U.S.

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Shapiro, Martin
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서울대학교 법학연구소
법학, Vol.41 No3 pp.1-7
judicial doctrinescommentators and judges urgeon their face
In Europe there have long been two schools of thought about how to interpret statutes and constitutions. One stresses the formal meaning of the words, the general principles of law established by the codes and the general academic and judicial doctrines derived from those words and general principles. This approach is often called the formal approach. The other school of interpretation seeks to take into account the purposes for which the law was enacted and the extent to which one interpretation or another will best serve that purpose. This school is often called purposive or teleological. In the United States the two schools are less distinct than in Europe. Instead some commentators and judges urge that the courts follow a traditional set of canons of statutory interpretation. Others argue that there is not, and probably cannot be, a coherent set of canons. There is, however, actually an American consensus on both statutory and constitutional interpretation. That consensus says “formalism first and teleological interpretation second”. All American interpreters agree that when the statutory or constitutional words have a single, clear, unambiguous meaning “on their face”, that is as written, courts should follow that “plain meaning” even if the results are undesirable in the judges view and even if such an interpretation does not best serve the purposes of the law. If, however, the legal text does not itself yield a single, clearly correct meaning, then judges should engage in purposive or teleological interpretation.
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College of Law/Law School (법과대학/대학원)The Law Research Institute (법학연구소) 법학법학 Volume 41, Number 1/4 (2001)
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