Between the Lines: Interpreting Welfare Rights / Edition 1

Between the Lines: Interpreting Welfare Rights / Edition 1

by R. Shep Melnick
     
 

Judicial interpretation of federal statutes has often been at the center of political controversy in recent years. In fact, it would be difficult to find a domestic policy area in which statutory interpretation by the federal courts has not played a significant role in shaping the activities of government. In most important cases, judges base their interpretation not… See more details below

Overview

Judicial interpretation of federal statutes has often been at the center of political controversy in recent years. In fact, it would be difficult to find a domestic policy area in which statutory interpretation by the federal courts has not played a significant role in shaping the activities of government. In most important cases, judges base their interpretation not on the letter of the law but on their reading of its history, purpose, and spirit. What judges discover between the lines of statutes often has major policy consequences. This book examines how statutory interpretation has affected the development of three programs: aid to families with dependent children, education for the handicapped, and food stamps. It explores how these decisions have changed state and national policies and how other institutions - especially Congress - have reacted to them. Although these three programs differ in several important ways, in each instance court action has expanded program benefits and increased federal control over state and local governments. R. Shep Melnick ties trends in statutory interpretation to broader political developments, including the expansion of the agenda of national government, the prevalence of divided government, and the resurgence and decentralization of Congress. He demonstrates that Congress frequently modifies or overturns court rulings, and he explains why statutory interpretation became so controversial in the 1980s. Between the Lines also explores the understanding of welfare rights that has guided the development of welfare policy over the past fifty years. Melnick considers what basic beliefs about the welfare state underlie court decisions interpreting these statutes and how the assumptions of judges and members of Congress have changed over time.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780815756637
Publisher:
Brookings Institution Press
Publication date:
01/28/1994
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
344
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.96(d)

Table of Contents

1Statutory Interpretation in American Politics3
2The New Political Context23
3The Law of Entitlements41
4The Reform Agenda65
5Welfare Reform in Court83
6The Congressional Response112
7A Bill of Rights Becomes a Law135
8Back in Court - Again160
9The Surprising Success of Food Stamps183
10From Litigation to Legislation206
11Statutory Interpretation and Political Institutions235
12The Court-Congress Connection256
13The Political Appeal of Welfare Rights274
Notes285
Index337

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