Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2012

Abstract

Many of the Supreme Court's statutory interpretation opinions reflect a juisprudential aversion to interpreting statutes in a manner that will prove "messy" for implementing courts to administer. Yet the practice of construing statutes to avoid "messiness" has gone largely unnoticed in the statutory interpretation literature. This Article seeks to illuminate the Court's use of "anti-messiness" arguments to interpret statutes and to bring theoretical attention to the principle of "messiness" avoidance. The Article begins by defining the concept of anti-messiness and providing a typology of common anti-messiness arguments used by the Supreme Court. It then considers some dangers inherent in the Court's use of anti-messiness arguments to reject otherwise plausible statutory constructions. Last, the Article explores how the anti-messiness principle fits within existing theories of jurisprudence and statutory interpretation and discusses how attentiveness to anti-messiness might add greater texture to prominent theories of statutory interpretation.

Share

COinS