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Law & Interpretation Seminar

Course Catalog Number:
Course Credits:
Course Type:
Course Priority:
Seminar - 3rd Year Priority
Graduation Requirements:
Upper-Level Writing
"W" Writing
Full Year Course:

Course Description

This seminar asks what it means in the law to have a valid reading of a legal text.  The issue is then not one of doctrine but of how a reader – e.g., a lawyer, a judge – can claim to be interpreting a legal text in a legitimate fashion.   This subject is of course discussed in the first-year course in Legislation and Regulation, and the Seminar is an advanced course in this topic.   As Leg Reg helped you begin to recognize, the variations in methods of legal interpretation have significant import for how cases are decided.  Further, many of the most vibrant debates in law today concern the proper method for interpretation of a legal text.  We will analyze in greater detail, for instance, why Justice Scalia and Justice Breyer each argue as they do (and with each other).  We will also analyze broader trends in legal interpretations, both on the courts and in scholarly discussion.  The ultimate objective of the course remains practical.  The great bulk of your work as a lawyer will involve legal texts – that is, statutes and constitutions rather than the common law – and your ability to think about the available method(s) for interpretation of these texts will influence greatly your ability to develop winning arguments for your clients.