Friday, June 26, 2015

Constructive vs constructionist interpretation

Two judgments pronounced recently, wholesomely look at laws in a constructive way without resorting to strict constructionism. (Constructionism is a method of interpreting the law strictly in a literal way in a dictionary sense.) One judgment is from the US Supreme Court in the petition against the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. The Court upheld the validity of subsidies extended by the Federal Government notwithstanding the carelessness evident in drafting of the Act.

The New York Times says,

"The question in the case, King v. Burwell, No. 14-114, was what to make of a phrase in the law that seems to say the subsidies are available only to people buying insurance on “an exchange established by the state.”

Chief Justice Roberts acknowledged that the plaintiffs had strong arguments about the plain meaning of the contested words. But he wrote that the words must be understood as part of a larger statutory plan. “In this instance,” he wrote, “the context and structure of the act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.”"

The dissent is more entertaining than logical. The NYT continues,

"In dissent on Thursday, Justice Antonin Scalia called the majority’s reasoning “quite absurd” and “interpretive jiggery-pokery.”
He announced his dissent from the bench, a sign of bitter disagreement. His summary was laced with notes of incredulity and sarcasm, sometimes drawing amused murmurs in the courtroom as he described the “interpretive somersaults” he said the majority had performed to reach the decision."

The other decision is from a Delhi Court. In a complaint filed against Smriti Irani, the Metropolitan Magistrate, Alok Jain has held that acceptance, in limine, of technical objections in the form of lapse of limitation period in a criminal case tend to defeat and deny substantial justice. The Court has loftily spoken that "procedure is meant to subserve and not overrule the cause of justice".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Surprisingly Bobby Jindal wants to get rid of the US Supreme Court for deviating from strict constructionism!