McReynolds on Interpreting Statutes

84px-JamescmcreynoldsOne thing that is evident when you go through Justice McReynolds’ opinions is that he was the conservative version of Holmes.  What I mean by that is that he typically wrote brief opinions and was pretty good at writing sharp prose.  (When McReynolds tried to write a longer opinion, though, things went wrong.  He was fond of cutting and pasting long quotes from past cases or historical sources.)

Consider this dissent in Federal Trade Comm’n v. Klesner, 274 U.S. 175 (1927) (this is the entire opinion)

I think the judgment of the court below should be affirmed.

If the cause involved no more than interpretation of a doubtful provision in the statute, it hardly would be worth while to record personal views. But judicial legislation is a hateful thing and I am unwilling by acquiescence to give apparent assent to the practice.

Possibly-probably, perhaps-if attention had been reasonably called to the matter Congress would have authorized the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to enforce orders of the Trade Commission. But the words of the enactment, which we must accept as deliberately chosen, give no such power; and I think this court ought not to interject what it can only suppose the lawmakers would have inserted if they had thought long enough.

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1 Response

  1. Joe says:

    Some are not fans, but to me (fwiw I think there is an individual right to RKBA) U.S. v. Miller was a pretty well written.