LawProse Lesson #330: Why every litigator needs a home copy of Reading Law.

LawProse Lesson #330: Why every litigator needs a home copy of Reading Law.

Why every litigator needs a home copy of Reading Law.

Over the past five years, the U.S. Supreme Court has cited the Scalia & Garner treatise Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts in 32 cases. Since its publication in 2012, it has been cited in more than 1,200 appellate decisions—far more than any other book on statutory construction.

You left yours at the office? You don’t have it in the seclusion of your home? That’s okay. You know how to order it and have it at your doorstep within 48 hours. At least we think you do.

You don’t have to be a Scalia-style textualist to need the book. Every lawyer should know how to make a textual argument. Reading Law is your toolkit. Within minutes of thumbing through its pages, you’ll know whether you should be citing the surplusage canon, the negative-implication canon, the presumption of consistent usage, the series-qualifier canon, or any of the 53 other canons. You’ll know the name of the canon, how it applies, and a blackletter hornbook-style rule that you can cite—just as the courts do.

Make the textual argument first, and then the policy argument. It’s that straightforward.

Some lawyers swear that they cite the book in every brief they write.

You don’t know the book? Say it ain’t so. Where have you been? It’s cited an average of once per working day month in and month out in courts throughout the USA.

Anyway, it’s never too late. The book is Scalia & Garner, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts. You’ll wonder how you ever practiced without it.

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