Karl Llewellyn on Canons of Construction

Readers of several posts (here and here) may have noted my skepticism of the value of canons of construction in both statutory and contract interpretation.  In my experience, canons don’t really decide cases.  Indeed, I think they often obscure the true, but unspoken, reasons why judges decide case in particular ways.  I intend to write more on this subject over the coming weeks and months.  But a great place to start is with Karl Llewellyn’s classic article on the subject, in which he points out that there are two opposing canons on almost every point.  Please read it and send along your thoughts.  I’d love to generate a discussion amongst the members of our local and state bars.

P.S.  If you are looking for a break from this fascinating, but also potentially mindnumbing issue, click here for the latest silly lawyer songs from yours truly, aka the Barrister of the Blues!



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