For most of this nation’s history, judge-made common law provided the major legal principles governing personal and commercial relations. More recently, however, the preeminence of common law has been eclipsed by statutory law, to the degree that one commentator has complained of the “orgy of statute-making” current today.
In this course we will study three essential facets of legislative law. First, more briefly, we will consider the processes by and standards under which bills are written, studied by committee, and enacted (or buried). Second, we will study the fate of the legislature’s statutes when construed by the judiciary. The problem of statutory construction has sparked a lively debate on the proper weight to be accorded to the statute’s text, its legislative history, and its implied or express statutory “purpose.” Third, we will also analyze the prevalent role administrative agencies play in interpreting statutes, principally through the development of administrative regulations.