Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Judicious Close Reading

Last week brought us an example of close reading from the United States Supreme Court.  In King v. Burwell, the Affordable Care Act case, the justices explicated one key phrase:  "an Exchange established by the State."

Close reading matters at all levels of court, however, as demonstrated a recent Ohio Court of Appeals opinion. The Dispatch reports on this municipal ordinance case.  The ordinance at issue forbids daylong parking for“any motor vehicle camper, trailer, farm implement and/or non-motorized vehicle."

Andrea Cammelleri was cited for parking her pickup truck.  While the truck may be a "motor vehicle," it is not a "motor vehicle camper."  The Court refused to read in a comma between "motor vehicle" and "camper," as the trial court had.  In short:  "By utilizing rules of grammar and employing the common meaning of terms, 'motor vehicle camper' has a clear definition that does not produce an absurd result."

All the more reason to brush up on your grammar, punctuation, and close reading skills!