Evan Zoldan, ‘The Conversation Canon’

Should a judge interpret a statute like it is a conversation between friends? Judges sometimes do just that, searching for the meaning of statutory language in a variety of nonlegal sources, including transcripts of conversations. Although this method of interpretation is common, scholars and judges have failed to identify it and consider its consequences. This Article identifies the practice as a canon of statutory interpretation: the Conversation Canon. But, although it is a canon, it is a bad one. Because it leads to unpredictable results, fails to constrain the interpreter, and undermines important public values, the Conversation Canon is normatively unattractive and should be avoided.

Zoldan, Evan Craig, The Conversation Canon (September 12, 2021). Kentucky Law Journal.

First posted 2021-09-15 11:00:19

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