Legalese

Reading Law
The Interpretation of Legal Texts
Antonin Scalia & Bryan A. Garner
Thompson/West, $39.96, 608 pp.

Justice Antonin Scalia has built one of the most important jurisprudential legacies in American law. He is best known as a formidable proponent of textualism and originalism. Textualists focus on the meaning of words and eschew more abstract inquiries about the law’s purposes. Originalists attempt to discern the original meaning of a legal document—most frequently the Constitution. Scalia has never been a favorite of the legal professoriate, but it is no surprise that law students and lawyers often find his distinctive approach to legal interpretation lucid and challenging. It is a mark of his pioneering influence and keen intellect that originalism and fidelity to text have become a staple of the Supreme Court’s interpretive methodology, a subject of expansive scholarly study, and an approach that resonates in the popular imagination.

The influence of Justice Scalia’s jurisprudence, however, exceeds the defense of it offered in Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts. One may believe that close attention to text is...

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About the Author

Marc O. DeGirolami is associate professor of law and associate director of the Center for Law and Religion at St. John’s University School of Law.