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Academic round-up

Just when you think there is nothing more to be said about statutory interpretation, a new article demonstrates that the topic is far from exhausted.

In her recent article in the Yale Law Journal, Professor Abbe Gluck challenges some of the conventional wisdom about statutory interpretation based on her close examination of state court practices.  For example, although federal judges do not give precedential effect to interpretive methods, and most academics have discarded the idea as unworkable, state courts have embraced the practice.  In four of the five states studied by Professor Gluck, judges apply stare decisis to interpretive methods, producing a single set of interpretive rules for the states’ judges to follow.  State legislatures are also getting involved by enacting codes of interpretation, though state courts do not always abide by them.  And state court judges are finding a middle ground between textualism and purposivism that has eluded federal judges and academics alike.  As Professor Gluck suggests, these developments at the state level may eventually inform and change the federal judiciary’s approach to statutory interpretation.  If nothing else, her analysis of these state practices should give both academics and federal judges a new perspective on some old problems.