Monday, April 16, 2018

Kimble on Textualism

Joe KimbleJoseph Kimble, Professor Emeritus at Western Michigan University Cooley School of Law, spoke on April 12, 2018 on the subject of "Textualism" at a meeting of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. The event was held at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

Textualism is the interpretive theory espoused by Justice Thomas, Justice Gorsuch, and the late Justice Scalia. In his presentation on the subject, Professor Kimble reviewed several high-level cases in which courts have grappled with applying textual canons. Cases he discussed included Lockhart v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 958 (2016), Yates v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 1074 (2015), and Paroline v. United States, 134 S. Ct. 1710 (2014).

His presentation challenged the audience to consider how better drafting could have avoided the interpretive issue in the first place. He also presented evidence on whether textualism is the neutral, objective, non-ideological approach to judging that it claims to be.

Professor Kimble is the author of several books, including Seeing Through Legalese: More Essays on Plain Language (Carolina Academic Press 2017). He is also a past president of the international organization Clarity, served as the executive director of Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers, is a founding director of the Center for Plain Language, and was on the board of the Legal Writing Institute. In 2000, he was named a "Plain English Champion" by the Plain English Campaign, in England. He is one of the first persons to receive that award. In 2007, he won the first Plain Language Association International Award for being a "champion, leader, and visionary in the international plain-language field." He has twice won a prestigious Burton Award for Reform in Law — in 2007 for his work on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and in 2011 for his work on the Federal Rules of Evidence. In 2010, he won a lifetime-achievement award from the Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research of the Association of American Law Schools. In 2015, he received the John W. Reed Lawyer Legacy Award from the State Bar of Michigan. And in 2017, Scribes created the Joseph Kimble Distinguished Service Award.


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