This book's focus makes statutes, and the processes that produce them, the primary consideration. Traditional teaching materials tend to make statutes and the circumstances of their creation secondary; students encounter the legislative process and legislative materials chiefly, sometimes exclusively, through the eyes of judges. In contrast, two of the three principal chapters of this book are organized around the enactment of two particular statutes -- one late Nineteenth Century, the second late Twentieth Century. These chapters expose students to primary documents reflecting the quite different processes by which these two statutes were enacted, and invite them to reach conclusions about their meaning, in advance of any exposure to judicial interpretations -- just as lawyers would typically be required to do in practice. The latter of these two chapters also includes extensive selections from the secondary literature to help put the current debates between textualists and purposivists in sharp focus. The intervening chapter deals in a more conventional way with the development and use of the purpose/intent-oriented methods of interpretation that characterized mid-Twentieth Century judicial practice.
This chapter, in which judicial decisions predominate, often sets a statutory problem as a prologue to the case -- highlighting the statutory issue and inviting the student to do her own interpretive analysis before encountering the judges' opinion.
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