Thursday, February 14, 2013

Throwing the Book at Them

The writer of a dictionary is an historian, not a lawgiver,” observed the renowned semanticist S.I. Hayakawa. Perhaps, that is why the citing of dictionaries by the U.S. Supreme Court was so rare prior to 1987. Over the past 25 years, however, as Profs. James Brudney and Lawrence Baum note in their Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper, as many as one of  three statutory decisions by the High Court have invoked dictionary definitions. As is frequently the case with dictionary definitions, the connotations merit our consideration. Oasis or Mirage: The Supreme Court's Thirst for Dictionaries

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