In an ideal world, the laws of Congress – known as federal statutes – would always be clearly worded and easily understood by the judges who must interpret them. But the wording of many laws is ambiguous or even contradictory. What are the principles, then, by which judges should interpret their meaning? Stick only to the text? Consult aids beyond the statutes themselves – and to what degree? Are the purposes of lawmakers in writing law relevant?

Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and author of the new book Judging Statutes, respectfully disagrees with those, including Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who believes courts should look to the language of the statute and virtually nothing else. Join us at Roosevelt House as Judge Katzmann discusses his book, in which he argues that our constitutional system charges Congress with enacting laws; therefore, how Congress makes its purposes known through both the laws and reliable accompanying materials should be respected. Judge Katzmann will be in conversation with Michael Waldman, author of The Second Amendment: A Biography and President of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.


Robert A. Katzmann in conversation with Michael Waldman: “Judging Statutes” | Posted on August 19th, 2014 | Book Discussions, Public Programs