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Law in the Age of Pluralism$
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Andrei Marmor

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195338478

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195338478.001.0001

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The Immorality of Textualism

The Immorality of Textualism

(p.197) CHAPTER 8 The Immorality of Textualism
Law in the Age of Pluralism

Andrei Marmor (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that textualism, as a doctrine of statutory interpretation, is inherently deceptive and therefore immoral. Textualism is typically presented by its adherents as an interpretive practice that is motivated by respect for democracy and respect for the authority of the legislature. However, textualism's preoccupation with ordinary meaning and literal application of statutes is motivated by a desire to constrain the legislature's ability to pursue broad regulatory policies. Authorities do not want to be understood literally. Authorities purport to govern, and governance requires cooperation in the spirit of its goals, not strict adherence to the letter of its directives.

Keywords:   textualism, democracy, interpretation, legislature

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