week 1: Mon Aug 28 & Wed Aug 30
Viewing laws as rules that are applied to individual cases is the most common picture of legal reasoning (see e.g. here, although see also here). Is this picture accurate? How are rules applied to individual cases?
reading – Schauer, Rules—in law and elsewhere [PDF]
week 2: Wed Sept 6 — No class on Mon Sept 4 Labor Day
We will read a case in which a legal rule about inheritance was interpreted and applied according to its purpose and not its letter.
reading – Riggs v. Palmer (1889) [PDF]
NB: Assignment #1 [PDF] – due Wed Sept 6
week 3: Mon Sept 11 & Wed Sept 13
Same topic as last week.
week 4: Mon Sept 18 — No class on Wed Sept 20
Some judges believe judicial decisions should be guided primarily by the text of the law; others believe the purpose of the law should play a pivotal role. We will examine their arguments.
watching – Scalia and Breyer Debate the Constitution [video]
watching – Sotomayor’s Senate hearing [video]
week 5: Mon Sept 25 & Wed Sept 27 – classes canceled this week
We will continue the discussion “text versus purpose” by looking at a divorce case decided by a court in Yemen.
reading – Messick, Interpreting tears [PDF]