04 June 2021

Quote of the Day

[W]hile Van Buren won’t protect all computer users from extremely overzealous prosecutors, Barrett’s opinion does prevent some of the more absurd outcomes that Kerr and others warned about in their briefs.

Ideally, Congress would update the 35-year-old Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to make sure that minor transgressions — the sort that are best addressed by company human resources departments and not by federal prosecutors — do not lead to criminal charges. But the United States Congress isn’t exactly a fully functional body right now.

And so, in the absence of a working legislature, Barrett’s opinion provides some relief to anyone who is afraid they might be arrested for not being entirely honest on their Tinder profile.

From Ian Millhiser at Vox (June 4, 2021).

This quote perfectly captures one of the central issues of legislative interpretation: 

How should the courts deal with a badly drafted law that read naively makes unreasonable demands that weren't really intended by any drafters?

Like the author of the Vox article, I agree that preferring an interpretation that leads to be better result is a better approach that slavishly following the naive reading of the statutory text to an unreasonable conclusion.

This quote also succinctly explains why the federal courts are so much more powerful in the United States, than in other countries, even when they are not making rulings on constitutional issues. 

Passing federal legislation in the U.S. is more difficult than passing laws in almost any other modern democracy in the world. So, because it is so hard to change the status quo in the U.S., determining what the status quo means in statutory interpretation cases is more important.

In contrast, in most countries, if ill-drafted legislation is discovered, it is relatively easy for the legislature to promptly correct it, and the issue would frequently not even lead to much partisan disagreement.


Dave Barnes said...

Naïve and not naive

andrew said...

If I knew how to make that symbol simply when typing I would. I guess I could look up the shortcuts to do it.