Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Cases in Contradiction

Confusion often marks the plight of the law student, especially in the first few weeks of this new endeavor.  Sometimes confusion may stem not from misunderstanding a case but from inconstant judicial logic.

Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean at the UC Irvine School of Law, identifies logical variations in three recent Supreme Court opinions dealing with bankruptcy:  "All come to reasonable conclusions. But they are markedly inconsistent in their approach to interpreting the bankruptcy act and to statutory interpretation more generally." 

Judicial inconsistency may be more common than you'd like, but some argue that it is not necessarily an evil.  Justin Driver, for example, discusses inconsistencies in one judge's work, Justice Stevens, deeming inconsistency a "virtue." 

So if you see ambiguities, think about reasons underlying them as well as what advantages and disadvantages you see in them.