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The Canons of Statutory Construction and Judicial Preferences (with Geoffrey P. Miller), 45 Vanderbilt Law Review 647 (1992)


A regrettable side-effect of Karl Llewellyn's interesting critique of the canons of statutory construction1 was that intellectual debate about the canons was derailed for almost a quarter of a century. In his critique, Professor Llewellyn purported to show that the canons of statutory construction were useless as rules for guiding decisions. His claim, that every canon could be countered by an equal and opposite countercanon, transformed the canons from exalted neutral principles into "conclusory explanations appended after the fact to justify results reached on other grounds." This Article's first goal is to demonstrate that Karl Llewellyn's critique was largely beside the point.

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