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March 30, 2008

Use of Committee Reports in Statutory Interpretation

Interesting article, unfortunately not on the web page for the Arkansas Law Review, by a student, entitled Michael L. Culotta, The Use of Committee Reports in Statutory Interpretation: A Suggested Framework for the Federal Judiciary, 60 Ark. L. Rev. 687 (2007).  Interestingly, the author breaks down the various possible sources of non-textual legislative input (as well as the related form of "signing statements"), and provides a reasoned (if light-handed) approach as to why some, but not all, of it should "matter" to interpretive problems. 

Essentially, he concludes that committee reports are the "most reliable" forms of meaning, with conference reports coming in a close second -- but that nothing else should be consulted, whether in the form of statements of single legislators or statements made at public hearings.

On the surface, of course, he's right: it may be that a single legislator says something that isn't reflective of Congressional intent.  But, what if 10 legislators, all of the bill's sponsors, spoke and ascribed to the bill the same meaning?  What if all 435 members of the House said the exact same thing about what the bill meant?  I think the tougher issues lay behind this article, but it is an interesting introduction to the obvious issues created by legislative history.

March 30, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink


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arrrrgh...this is about the tenth time you've teased us with a really interesting article, but then have told us it's not online...

Posted by: andy | Mar 31, 2008 7:15:43 PM

I can't make people share! :-)

Posted by: David Hricik | Apr 1, 2008 9:56:51 AM

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