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Justice Scalia also greatly influenced the law of statutory interpretation. By eliminating legislative history as a source of statutory meaning, Justice Scalia forced Congress to say what it meant in the text of the laws it adopted rather than hiding the ball in a forest of contradictory legislative history. Justice Scalia construed statutes by looking at the plain meaning of their texts. He revived the canons of statutory interpretations, which had fallen into disuse since the Legal Realist movement of the 1930's and 1940's. He even wrote a treatise on statutory interpretation, which no justice other than Justice Joseph Story in the early Nineteenth Century had done. In the Warren Court era, statutory cases rarely quoted the text of the statutes being interpreted and focused instead exclusively on the legislative history. Justice Scalia helped change that. Courts today always begin with the text of statutes and rarely look at the legislative history. Justice Scalia also played the key role in developing the doctrine of Chevron deference in Administrative Law, moving the interpretation of ambiguous delegations of legislative power to elected executive branch officials and away from courts. While it is clear why Justice Scalia expressed these views, he was also expressing, in the last years, great concern about how Chevron deference was working in practice.

This panel was held on November 19, 2016, during the 2016 National Lawyers Convention in Washington, DC.

Showcase Panel III: Transforming Statutory Interpretation
9:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Grand Ballroom

  • Prof. William Eskridge, Jr., John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence, Yale Law School
  • Prof. Abbe R. Gluck, Professor of Law and Faculty Director, The Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy, Yale Law School
  • Prof. Gary S. Lawson, Philip S. Beck Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law
  • Prof. Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Moderator: Hon. Diane S. Sykes, U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • Introduction: Mr. Dean A. Reuter, Vice President & Director of Practice Groups, The Federalist Society

The Mayflower Hotel
Washington, DC