It is important to place emphasis on the fact that the interpretation of laws becomes crucial depending on the context in which texts are interpreted. In this regard, Scalia supports the idea that the range of meaning of texts of laws should take into consideration the existing environment and legal practices. At the same time, principles on which laws are interpreted should remain standard and applicable throughout the time. In this regard, judges can interpret laws to make decisions and to provide the interpretation of texts of laws.
In fact, Scalia objects that this would go against one of the principles in the Constitution that only the legislature makes the rules, but as Tribe points out, trying to find principles within a document that justifies an interpretation of the same document is a self-referential problem that does not explain how one interpreted those principles in the first place, much less the source of the principles that justified those interpretations in the first place (Scalia, 76-77).
Scalia develops the fundamental principle of interpretation of texts of laws: Only the framework that best upholds some sort of a priori idea of human rights is valid is one example. Obviously such a claim would have great impact on which interpretational framework were followed, showing the importance of first agreeing on such a metaframework. If the selection criteria can’t be agreed upon, any discussion of a specific framework would be in a different language altogether than another discussion. Choose the best interpretational framework that provides the most economical, smoothest, or most peaceful government, for example. Yet another metaframwork would be based upon intent: Choose the interpretational framework that most likely matches how the framers of the Constitution meant it to be interpreted. (Scalia, 141-142).buy essay
In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that the interpretational framework defines to a significant extent the outcomes of interpretation of laws. At this point, it is possible to refer to the metaphorical comparison of interpreting laws to prescribing drugs. To put it more precisely, Scalia wrote: If the term legitimate medical purpose’ has any meaning, it surely excludes the prescription of drugs to produce death(Scalia, 149). In such a way, the interpretation of laws should be grounded on the adequate analysis and understanding of texts of laws and their interpretation respectively to the original meaning and current environment, in which laws are implemented. At this point, Scalia inclines to the textualism and textualist interpretation of laws. On the other hand, he insists that the literal interpretation of laws cannot bring positive effects. Instead, the interpretation of laws is a very complex process which may involve substantial difficulties raised by significant differences in views on original texts.
In this respect, it is important to point out that the textual interpretation of laws may be limited to the literal interpretation. In fact, the accurate interpretation of laws on the ground of textual interpretation of laws can be literal but Scalia considers such interpretation ineffective. What is meant here is the fact that the literal interpretation of laws on the ground of the literal understanding of texts may be misleading. In fact, laws could be created long time ago. As a result, the original interpretation of laws is important but it is still the literal interpretation of laws written long time ago is extremely difficult. Obviously, the literal interpretation of texts written decades ago is difficult because legal and socio-cultural environment of laws written long ago was different from the contemporary one. Therefore, judges cannot interpret laws accurately today because of the wide gap between the present environment in which laws are interpreted and the past environment when laws were written. In fact, laws are written to meet the actual needs of the society and to lay the foundation to the further development of the legislative and justice system through the creation of basic principles of functioning of laws in the society.
On the other hand, the interpretation of laws cannot be irrelevant to the original texts. In this regard, Scalia argues that judges can interpret laws but still they cannot develop absolutely new interpretations of laws, which are irrelevant to the actual meaning of laws and the original meaning of texts. As a result, judges should operate within the definite framework of meaning, which can help judges to interpret laws accurately. What is meant here is the fact that the interpretation of laws should be grounded on the original texts, taking into consideration the current environment and practices.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the interpretation of laws is crucial for the effective functioning of laws and their implementation in the modern society. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that the Scalia stresses that the textualist interpretation is useful but it is not enough for the accurate interpretation of laws because judges should take into consideration the current environment in which laws are implemented and used. On the other hand, judges should operate within the set framework of meaning of laws, which they cannot go beyond.
Broad, C.D. Ethics And the History of Philosophy. New York: Routledge, 2000.
Scalia, A. A Matter of Interpretation. New York: Princeton University Press, 1997.