Professor Adrian Vermeule’s new book, Judging Under Uncertainty, argues that while no one can empirically determine whether any net benefits arise from judicial use of legislative history or other interpretive methods that go beyond simple enforcement of plain text, such interpretive methods do impose substantial costs. Vermeule concludes, therefore, that courts should discard such interpretive methods. This Article suggests, first, that the extent of the costs incurred as a result of applying interpretive methods other than simply enforcing plain text is far from clear. This Article also suggests that it is uncertain whether discarding such methods would result in any cost savings. First, costs would remain if only some judges adopted Professor Vermeule’s theory. Second, even if all judges adopted it, cost savings from the use of simpler interpretive methods might be offset by other, new costs that produce absurd results, like those imposed by the judicial enforcement of clear but erroneously drafted statutory text. Finally, this Article argues that there are institutional reasons to believe that courts do get net benefits from methods that permit them to look beyond plain statutory text in some cases; most notably, the fact that courts interpret statutes at the moment of implementation puts them in a good position to detect statutory drafting errors. For these reasons, this Article recommends against adoption of Professor Vermeule’s interpretive theory.
Case Comment: Bhogaita v. Altamonte
EVERY DOG CAN HAVE HIS DAY IN COURT: THE USE OF ANIMALS AS DEMONSTRATIVE EXHIBITS Kyle R. Kroll, Volume 100, Online Managing Editor In Bhogaita v. Altamonte, the Eleventh Circuit recently decided whether to allow a dog in the courtroom as a demonstrative exhibit. Although the case presented many serious [...]
Revisiting Water Bankruptcy
REVISITING WATER BANKRUPTCY IN CALIFORNIA’S FOURTH YEAR OF DROUGHT Olivia Moe, Volume 100, Managing Editor This spring, as “extreme” to “exceptional” drought stretched across most of California—indicating that a four-year streak of drought was not about to resolve itself—Governor Jerry Brown issued an unprecedented order to reduce potable urban water [...]
Defying Auer Deference
DEFYING AUER DEFERENCE: SKIDMORE AS A SOLUTION TO CONSERVATIVE CONCERNS IN PEREZ v. MORTGAGE BANKERS ASSOCIATION Nicholas R. Bednar, Volume 100, Lead Articles Editor* On March 9, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its decision in Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association. The Court overturned the D.C. [...]