Reverence for the Law, and Statutory Interpretation
The best way to ensure the perpetuation of democratic institutions in turbulent times, said Abraham Lincoln in an 1838 speech, is to cultivate a sense of reverence for the law.
“Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap — let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; — let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice.”
“And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation,” said the 28 year old Lincoln.
A newly updated report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service introduces lay readers to the principles of statutory interpretation used by the Supreme Court to interpret the law.
Some of these rules are commonsensical. Thus, ordinarily, “shall” is mandatory and “may” is permissive.
Others are less obvious but no less important. The principle of “constitutional avoidance,” for example, dictates that a statute should be read, “if fairly possible,” so as not to be found unconstitutional.
At Congressional direction, CRS does not make its products directly available to the American public. But a copy of this useful new CRS report was obtained by Secrecy News.
See “Statutory Interpretation: General Principles and Recent Trends,” updated March 30, 2006.
The FAS Nuclear Notebook is one of the most widely sourced reference materials worldwide for reliable information about the status of nuclear weapons, and has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987.. The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by the staff of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project: Director Hans […]
On 14 April 2023, the Belarusian Ministry of Defence released a short video of a Su-25 pilot explaining his new role in delivering “special [nuclear] munitions” following his training in Russia. The features seen in the video, as well as several other open-source clues, suggest that Lida Air Base––located only 40 kilometers from the Lithuanian border and the […]
A photo in a Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) student briefing from 2022 shows four people inspecting what appears to be a damaged B61 nuclear bomb.
In early-February 2023, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) had informed Congress that China now has more launchers for Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) than the United States. The report is the latest in a serious of revelations over the past four years about China’s growing nuclear weapons arsenal and the deepening […]