This book's focus is statutes and the processes that produce them. Traditional teaching materials tend to make statutes and the circumstances of their creation secondary. Students encounter the legislative process and legislative materials chiefly, sometimes exclusively, through the eyes of judges.
In contrast, two of the three principal chapters of this book are organized around the enactment of two particular statutes - one late 19th century, the second late 20th century. These chapters expose students to primary documents reflecting the different processes by which the statutes were enacted and invite them to reach conclusions about their meaning, in advance of any exposure to judicial interpretations - just as lawyers would typically be required to do in practice.
The intervening chapter deals in a more conventional way with the development and use of the purpose/intent-oriented methods of interpretation that characterized mid-20th century judicial practice.
Essay after essay in this fascinating book explores the statutory and historical setting of the cases discussed, rather than mere doctrine, examining in detail lawyers' judgments and tactics. Many use recently revealed papers of Supreme Court Justices to discuss often surprising elements of the decision by the Court. Students can learn a good deal about the handling of these disputes at the administrative level, before they ever get to court -- a perspective essential to understanding the field, but hard to pick up from the reported cases. Attention is paid to the ways in which many of these decisions affected future developments, with primary focus on context and on understanding the ways in which administrative disputes develop, and the roles that lawyers play in developing them.
The eleven contributions in the book include essays by Professors Thomas Merrill (Chevron v. NRDC) and Gillian Metzger ‘95 (Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Co. v. NRDC) as well as Prof. Strauss (Citizens to Preserve Overton Park v. Volpe).
Legal Methods: Understanding and Using Cases and Statutes
Peter Strauss (Foundation Press, 2005)
How should students begin their legal education? Professor Strauss's innovative materials build on a Columbia Law School commitment reaches back to Professor Karl Llewellyn'sThe Bramble Bush, which posited that legal education should start with the materials lawyers use, as well as those of the institutions with whom they deal. Prof. Strauss focuses on the skills beginning law students need for using cases, statutes, and secondary materials in their education. He does so by following the development across time of American legal doctrines about product liability and workplace injury, case law and statutory, and of the judicial and legislative institutions that created those doctrines. Along the way, students encounter not only the appellate opinions typical of law school teaching materials, but lawyers' arguments and briefs, legislative history materials, and secondary literature that includes excerpts bearing on continuing controversies over statutory interpretation.