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Unpublished Paper
The Food Stays in the Kitchen: Everything I Needed to Know About Statutory Interpretation I Learned by the Time I was Nine
ExpressO (2008)
  • Hillel Levin, University of Georgia
Abstract

Based on a true story, this brief Essay begins with a proclamation by Mother, the Supreme Lawmaker, that "no food may be eaten outside the kitchen." What follows is a series of rulings by Judges--father, babysitter, grandma (a liberal jurist, of course), and others--who, using traditional tools of interpretation, eventually declare it to mean that all food may be eaten outside of the kitchen. Ultimately, the supreme lawmaker reacts and clarifies.

The piece is meant to demonstrate the following:

* We all regularly use the basic tools and modes of statutory interpretation;

* When we interpret pronouncements in real life, we resort to a mix of textualist, literalist, purposivist, legal process, precedent, and other techniques and sources;

* Although the various tools seem perfectly reasonable individually, in the aggregate, they can lead to ridiculous results;

* Even when we agree that the ultimate results are ridiculous, it is sometimes hard to pinpoint exactly where the error occurred.

Disciplines
Publication Date
October 20, 2008
Citation Information
Hillel Levin. "The Food Stays in the Kitchen: Everything I Needed to Know About Statutory Interpretation I Learned by the Time I was Nine" ExpressO (2008)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/hillel_levin/1/