Law Schedule of Classes

NOTE: Course offerings change. Classes offered this semester may not be offered in future semesters.

Apart from their assigned mod courses, 1L students may only enroll in courses offered as 1L electives. A complete list of these courses can be found on the 1L Elective Listings page. 1L students must use the 1L class number listed on the course description when enrolling.

225.31 sec. 001 - Introduction to Statutory Interpretation in the Regulatory State for 1Ls (Spring 2022)

Instructor: Brian G Slocum  
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Units: 1
Grading Designation: Credit Only
Mode of Instruction: In-Person


Tu 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM
Location: Law 140
From January 11, 2022
To April 22, 2022

Course Start: January 11, 2022
Course End: April 22, 2022
This course is open to 1Ls.

Enrollment info:
Enrolled: 6
Waitlisted: 0
Enroll Limit: 40
As of: 07/19 11:58 AM

The functioning of the law is based on how language is interpreted. This course focuses on the role of interpretation within the Regulatory State. Increasingly, governmental agencies have a primary role in interpreting our most important laws. We will consider how courts balance the judicial obligation ‘to say what the law is’ with the greater substantive expertise and democratic accountability of agencies. We will first consider fundamental issues of interpretation. These issues are constantly before the courts, even in relatively homogeneous, monolingual cultures. We will consider how the heterogeneous, multilingual nature of our society should impact legal interpretation. Thus, for instance, what does it mean for an “ordinary person” to have “fair notice” of the law? Is that a value courts should promote? Should a court interpret a legal text according to its “ordinary meaning”? Is there such a thing as “ordinary meaning,” and if so, how can an attorney or court identify it? How should the language of a law, such as a civil rights statute, be interpreted over time? Is it inevitable that such a law will be interpreted dynamically? We will consider how the interpretive power of agencies changes the answers we would otherwise give to the above questions.

Professor Brian Slocum has a JD and a PhD in Linguistics and writes extensively on issues of legal interpretation. Recent articles include, The Meaning of Sex: Dynamic Words, Novel Applications, and Original Public Meaning, 119 Mich. L. Rev. 1503 (2021) (with William N. Eskridge Jr. & Stefan Th. Gries), and Statutory Interpretation from the Outside, Colum. L. Rev. (forthcoming, 2022) (with Kevin Tobia & Victoria Nourse). Prior to joining legal academia, Professor Slocum was a Trial Attorney in both the Civil and Criminal Divisions of the Department of Justice.

Exam Notes: (P) Final paper  
Exam Length: 2 hours
Course Category: Public Law and Policy

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