Predictability in law is the key to a prosperous Republic. Laws must be interpreted based on the language in them first and foremost. Only, when the language is unclear, should a judge seek evidence on related legislative discourse and legislative intent at the time the law was passed to help interpret it. Otherwise, law risks becoming whatever a particular Judge or powerful person/group wants it to be.
This was the consistent judicial philosophy of former Justice Antonin Scalia, and often adopted by Justice Kennedy.
Seeking Justices who interpret the laws based on their personal conclusion of what culture wants or what one Legislator said about a law, or what the law means in another country, results in the creation of different law created by the Judicial Branch, the branch of government neither elected by nor accountable to the people.
Justice Sotomayor’s recent dissent opinion regarding the “President Trump Travel Ban” is an example of the danger of violating Scalia’s decision formula. She based her emotional opinion on what she viewed as President Trump’s intent as evidenced by select things President Trump said while campaigning, versus what the law specifically said in plain English. Justice Sotomayor concluded the law was a ban on all Muslims entering the United States. However, the “Trump Travel Ban” neither states this nor is it applied in such fashion by Border Control. ##
Kurt Kelley, J.D.
Mobile Agency, MHR
The Woodlands, Texas