Antonin Scalia Textualism Summary

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Textualism, as Antonin Scalia describes it, is inconsistent in its nature. While he first claims that a good textualist would never interpret the law with the legislator’s intent in mind, Scalia later violates his own convictions by allowing for corrections of Scrivener’s errors. In principle, correcting Scrivener’s errors requires the judge to think about what the original writer meant to say with the statute, not the literal meaning of the text. This may mean adding a single additional word to the statute, but something as deceptively simple as one word could have drastic effects on the meaning of the law. Therefore, Scalia cannot claim to account for Scrivener’s errors while also chastising methods of interpretation that consider what the…show more content…
In the section titled “Intent of the Legislature,” Scalia writes on the rules of statutory construction. His first rule of interpretation has to do with the simple face value of a statute: if the requirements of the law are clear, then intention behind the law does not matter and the judge must rule in accordance with what the law says. On the subject of vague statutes, Scalia writes, “In selecting the words of the statute, the legislature might have misspoken. Why not permit that to be demonstrated from the floor debates? Or indeed, why not accept... later explanations by the legislators... as to what they really meant?” In this quote, Scalia acknowledges potential imperfections of legislators but then says that it is not up to the courts to correct these deficiencies . These flawed statutes should be kicked back to the legislature, which seems to be the only governmental body that has the proper authority to make corrections. Later in the piece, he says that there actually are permissible corrections that can be made to the law, provided that the change is made to the very face of an obviously misspoken statute. But what constitutes as “obvious”? Furthermore, who has the authority to make that

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