Getting the Arizona Courts and Arizona Legislature on the Same (Drafting) Page

Tamara Herrera.

One only needs to read the latest legal blog or newspaper to find a story about ambiguous statutory language at the center of a dispute. Courts solve these disputes in a variety of ways, including using statutory interpretation tools, such as textual aids, canons of construction, and legislative history. Of course, not every scholar or judge agrees on when, how, and even if a court should employ these tools. On the one hand, textualists follow a formalist approach that requires a court to look to just the text in interpreting a statute and to reject tools that consider extrinsic evidence, such as legislative history. On the other hand, purposivists believe the most important goal is to find the legislative purpose or intent behind the statute, which may require the court to rely on legislative history. What is missing from this debate about how to use statutory interpretation tools, though, is  how a court should treat materials that legislative drafters actually use when drafting the law.

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