There are two main schools of thought about how to read statutes. One is that judges should read the words and apply them, period, whatever the result. The second school is that judges should read the words in the context of the problem the writers were trying to resolve and give them a meaning that the writers intended, or would have intended if they had foreseen the problem in the case before the court, even if the writers did not use exactly the right words. The Iowa Supreme Court recently looked at this question in the context of agricultural leases, specifically whether a single horse makes a farm.
Justice Antonin Scalia, perhaps the most controversial figure of the modern Supreme Court, has unexpectedly passed away at age 79. Unfortunately, the political posturing over when and how to replace him began almost immediately following the public announcement of his death. For a lovely tribute to a man whose intellect, influence, and personal relationships deserved […]