The Absurdity and Injustice Canon

Do not interpret a rule in such a way that would create an absurd or unjust or extremely inconvenient result.


1. Armstrong Paint & Varnish Works v. Nu-Enamel Corp., 59 S.Ct. 191 (1938):

“to construe statutes so as to avoid results glaringly absurd, has long been a judicial function.”

2. Griffin v. Oceanic Contractors, Inc., 102 S.Ct. 3245 (1982):

“It is true that interpretations of a statute which would produce absurd results are to be avoided if alternative interpretations consistent with the legislative purpose are available.”

3. Lionberger v. Rouse, 76 U.S. 468 (1869):

“It is a universal rule in the exposition of statutes that the intent of the law, if it can be clearly ascertained, shall prevail over the letter, and this is especially true where the precise words, if construed in their ordinary sense, would lead to manifest injustice.”

4. U.S. v. Powers, 59 S.Ct. 805 (1939):

“There is a presumption against a construction which would render a statute ineffective or inefficient, or which would cause grave public injury or even inconvenience.”

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