Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



There has been recent discussion of abandoning the literal meaning rule and most of the other rules of statutory construction. A broader principle is favored which will allow the full play of the rational processes of the court. This view has great appeal, and, in terms of freeing judges who apply rules as rules without regard to their object, serves a need. But if it means a sudden release of the judiciary from always starting with a statute as it reads--as it is written--as it has meaning for most of us--it is a harmful suggestion. Law is something more than administration and the court must recognize that it cannot always reach the rational result for the particular case without sacrificing systematic treatment for guess work. There is a science of principles and rules which is basic to an orderly society. This paper will attempt, however,to appraise recent cases from the viewpoint of factors influencing judges in interpreting statutes rather than the more conventional one, for the purpose of finding any new or useful ideas that may be there.