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Are Housekeepers Like Judges?

By Stephen P. Garvey


Professor Greenawalt proposes that we look at interpretation \u22from the bottom up.\u22 By taking a close look at informal relationships between an authority and his or her agent, and how the agent \u22faithfully performs\u22 instructions within such relationships, he hopes to gain insight into the problems surrounding the interpretation of legal directives. The analysis of \u22faithful performance\u22 in informal contexts which Professor Greenawalt presents in From the Bottom Up is the first step in a larger project. His next step is to see what lessons the interpretation of instructions in informal contexts has for law. This Comment tries to contribute to that next step. One might continue Professor Greenawalt\u27s project in one of at least two ways (though Professor Greenawalt may have neither in mind). First, one could try to identify the insights developed in the informal context and then transpose them more or less directly onto the legal context. Second, one could try to stay roughly within the context of informal relationships of authority, but try to make them look more like the relationships of authority that typically obtain within law. I take the second of these two approaches. In Part I, I offer some variations on one of the stories Professor Greenawalt uses to explore \u22bottom-up\u22 interpretation. Professor Greenawalt does not directly enter the contemporary debate surrounding questions of statutory interpretation. Nonetheless, he does show how important a principal\u27s subjective intent is to an agent\u27s effort to faithfully perform, and he does hope \u22we can learn something about ... the possible legal relevance of the intent of those who issue directions.\u22 Accordingly, Part II closes with some general and well-known caveats about the role of intent in statutory interpretation

Topics: Statutory interpretation, Kent Greenawalt, Faithful performance, Legislative intent in statutory interpretation, Law and Society, Legal History, Legislation
Publisher: Scholarship@Cornell Law: A Digital Repository
Year: 1997
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