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A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law: Federal Courts and the Law
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A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law: Federal Courts and the Law

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  311 ratings  ·  35 reviews
We are all familiar with the image of the immensely clever judge who discerns the best rule of common law for the case at hand. According to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a judge like this can maneuver through earlier cases to achieve the desired aim--"distinguishing one prior case on his left, straight-arming another one on his right, high-stepping away from ...more
ebook, 176 pages
Published July 27th 1998 by Princeton University Press (first published January 1st 1997)
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This is a series of essays about the role of federal courts in interpreting common law and statutory law, with the centerpiece being an essay by Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

Scalia's view is that there is no single unified method of jurisprudence today about the interpretation of laws, whether in law schools or in the courts themselves. His concern is on the undemocratic institution of non-elected judges passing decisions on statutory law, and his aim is to produce a more coherent philosoph
It's really a collection of essays: A central tract by Scalia, responses by several interesting and learned professors, a useless introduction by another professor, and a rebuttal by Scalia.

While I find Mr. Scalia's rulings often troubling, the theory that he presents here is well-grounded and coherent. It's originalism, or textualism, or strict textualism, or textual interpretation; whatever the name, Scalia believes in a formalistic, reasonable reading of the Constitution that's not informed
Despite your own leanings on judicial philosophy, this is a must read book. Not only does it provide a very concise summation of the original meaning school of constitutional and statutory interpretation. But further, the responses by Professors Wood, Tribe, Glendon, and Dworkin provide a fascinating comparison between each of their own philosophies with that of Scalia.

Those things aside, Scalia's writing is fascinating in its own right. It's interesting to have read this book after reading Bor
Jon Ciliberto
Judges interpret laws. The question of what interpretation actually is, and how or whether judges ought to go about it, is explored here in the form of an essay by Justice Scalia and responding essays by several scholars in the field. Scalia, say what you will about his weird and crazy ideas (e.g., that the Devil exists and that the reason we don't see as much demonic possession as compared to the old days is that the Devil has gotten 'wilier'
[]), Scalia i
I truly want to get onboard with Justice Scalia’s brand of interpreting common law, statute, and the Constitution. It is attractive because it is true to our contemporary understanding of the democratic structure and processes of our country: legislatures create laws, the executive branch executes those laws, and, when disputes arise, judges apply the laws to the facts and thus reaffirm the law while deciding the dispute. It is also attractive because of its consistency: a judge, Scalia maintain ...more
The Thousander Club
Adam C. Zern opines . . .

"I heard about A Matter of Interpretation by looking over The Federalist Society’s “Conservative and Libertarian Pre-law Reading list.” (In fact, I found what became one of my favorite books—A Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sowell—on this reading list). After reading The Federalist Papers I realized I had a tremendously lacking understanding of our judiciary and the nuances of our system. Reading A Matter of Interpretation was an effort to try and fill in some of the gap
The first time I read this book, I was a senior in college, graduation mere weeks away. I didn't pay attention to Scalia's pompous narrative so much as his message. I just wanted to finish the damn book, get the paper written, and walk across the stage. Reading it again, I notice an almost dangerous sense of self-righteousness in his book, much like the air in Justice Breyer's. However, Scalia's conclusions on Constitutional Law fall more along my line of thinking, and so I can partly forgive hi ...more
This book helped me understand the controversy surrounding how to appropriately interpret the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia first presents his view on proper interpretation--textualism. Then five other legal minds weigh in on the pros and cons of a textualist interpretation (at least Scalia's textualist version) of the Constitution. Scalia then gets a final say to clarify/rebut the invited comments.

Scalia's initial essay was the easiest to read and most interesting portion
Shea Henning
Ah, Scalia. I have such conflicted feelings towards this Supreme Court Justice. On one hand, I find myself disagreeing with multiple decisions and I loathe his method of interpretation. However, this book was an interesting look into his head, and I clearly outlines his reasoning for his methods. He's a good writer, and I always have been entertained by his opinions. If you have any interest in the SCOTUS, I would recommend this book.
Dan Cotter
Very entertaining set of essays. Scalia witted his thoughts, a number of others try to poke holes, and he responds. Interesting because over time his method has changed (see A Court of One) and this book is from late 1990's. Worthwhile read.
I'm not giving this book four stars because I agree with all of what Scalia says, even though I think his methodology is sound. I am giving it four stars because this book is a clear discussion on methods of interpreting the constitution. You get to read Scalia's argument about "the best" method to use to interprest the Constitution and statutes--it's his method, of course. But then you also get several rebuttals from other experts, who try to show the problems with Scalia's methodology. Then, a ...more
I just jumping into the discussion on law and its interpretation, so many of the points here were over my head, but I like the format of one author (Scalia) making an argument, a few scholars responding, and then the original author responding. A great way to expose the reader to many, sometimes conflicting, ideas.
Jeff Ricks
I'm a fan of Scalia. This book contains an essay by him about statutory and constitutional interpretation, and then 4 various scholars' responses, and then a final response to those by Scalia. This isn't going to be interesting to anyone who doesn't care about the Constitution, but to anyone interested in law and how the judiciary of our nation should operate, this is fantastic. I loved getting not just his opinion, but also the opinions of Tribe and Dworkin on the subject. It's hard to know whe ...more
Paul Bond
Antonin Scalia is a tragic figure. He can tear down any mode of legal theorizing that displeases him. But Scalia can't seem to build up a method of interpreting laws that even he can consistently follow. Attention to legislative history? Scalia blows that out of the water, makes it look positively Looney Toons. So, how do we understand constitutional or statutory phrases? Just look at the text, he says. But, in practice, Scalia inserts his value judgments into textual ambiguities all the time. S ...more
A short, effective book that should be required reading for first-year law students.
This book confirmed forever my status as a law geek--I got so excited reading this that I stayed up late to finish it. What I found so interesting was not just Scalia's articulation of his principles of statutory interpretation, although it was the first I'd read of anyone setting out some sort of reasoned approach to reading statutes (and I'm not so sure Scalia always follows his stated approach), but, more importantly, the essays in response to his initial response illuminated some of the issu ...more
Sean Rosenthal
Interesting Quote:

"If the Courts are free to write the Constitution anew, they will, by God, write it the way the majority wants; the appointment and confirmation process will see to that. This, of course, is the end of the Bill of Rights, whose meaning will be committed to the very body it was meant to protect against: the majority. By trying to make the Constitution do everything that needs doing from age to age, we shall have caused it to do nothing at all."

-Justice Scalia, A Matter of Interp
Vj Ire
NOT WHAT YOU THINK! It is a really good set of essays about why judicial interpretation (as opposed to textual interpretation) is a less stable system for a democracy. There are certain barriers to legislative and executive purview over the people of this country that judicial interpretation breaks down.
"Don't run away from this, Dude! Goddamnit, this affects all of us!
I'm staying. Finishing my coffee."
Oliver Bateman
A useful short essay that spells out Scalia's idiosyncratic approach to statutory and constitutional interpretation. He's wrong, as demonstrated in an especially perspicacious rebuttal by Ronald Dworkin, but he writes well and understands exactly what he's doing: protecting the rights of a small, entitled minority.
Even if you don't agree with Scalia's interpretation of the Constitution, this is a very interesting read. He presents his argument methodically and with humor (and a fair amount of sarcasm). Written in a style that is both more accessible and more fluid than most academic texts.

3.5/5.0 stars.
Scalia's approach is explicated in an easy to read and accessible form. While I doubt anyone would be pursuaded of his version of textualism just from reading it, it's key to understanding the perspective from whence he comes.
I didn't not agree with Justice Scalia, but I liked how he had commentary with other legal scholars, although I didn't agree with a few of them either. Still, a quick read and interesting insight into interpretation.
The first Scalia essay is goo. I'm not sure about the rest of it (including Scalia's response). They all seem to require more elaboration or more knowledge on the part of the reader.
Oct 08, 2007 Adrienne rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in theories of statutory and constitutional interpretation
If you read Active Liberty, you should read this book. It lays out Justice Scalia's theory of statutory and constitutional interpretation together with critiques from other scholars.
This book is a collectioin of essays of which only two are by Justice Scalia. It brings up a lot of great points and issues when it comes to interpreting the Constitution.
Interesting thoughts, but should def compliment with other constitutional theory writings. I like the way Scalia writes though, not too lofty sounding and very read-able
Judicial troll. He uses his alleged textual interpretation as intellectual cover for doing what he accuses others of doing, legislating from the bench.
Jenni Burgess
Provocative commentary on the comparative responsibility of elected officials and courts in law making.
A lively debate that is very informative. Great response by Scalia as well from his various critics.
Curtis Bentley
Very good book on Scalia's philosophy and common law interpretive principles applied to statutes
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Antonin Gregory Scalia is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He was appointed in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan having previously served on the D.C. Circuit and in the Nixon and Ford administrations, and teaching law at the Universities of Virginia and Chicago. He is considered to be a core member of the conservative wing of the court, vigorously advancing textualism ...more
More about Antonin Scalia...
Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges Scalia Dissents: Writings of the Supreme Court's Wittiest, Most Outspoken Justice Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts Scalia and Garner's Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts On Constitutional Interpretation

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