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“What Good is Legislative history?”

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A new book out by a fellow law librarian: “What Good is Legislative History? Justice Scalia in the Federal Courts of Appeals,” By Joseph L. Gerken, Reference Librarian University at Buffalo Law Library.

A brief review can be found at the Law Librarian Blog (and you can also search the title on the Internet search engine of choice for more information).

Law librarians spend a good part of their professional lives teaching or performing legislative history research, or trying to locate legislative history documents, so it is near and dear to our hearts. The question of whether or not legislative history should be relied on by the courts to acertain legislative intent has been around for a long time (and not just in the U.S. – it was a big, a huge, deal when some judges in the U.K. courts started using legislative history instead of relying only on the actual text of the statute).

Of course there is at least one additional question for Justice Scalia and others who eschew the use of legislative history, and that is: do you use Presidential Signing Statements as a guide to executive intent even though you don’t want to look outside the statute to the legislature for the statute’s meaning?

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