The Drafters’ Intent Canon

Where the language of the rule is unclear, or in rare cases where the application of the rule as written will clearly violate GW’s intentions, interpret the rule according to GW’s intent.


1. Shapiro v. U.S., 68 S.Ct. 1375 (1948):

“A statute susceptible of either of two opposed interpretations must be read in the manner which effectuates rather than frustrates the major purpose of the legislative draftsmen.”

2. Perry v. Commerce Loan Co., 86 S.Ct. 852 (1966):

“There is, of course, no more persuasive evidence of the purpose of a statute than the words by which the legislature undertook to give expression to its wishes. Often these words are sufficient in and of themselves to determine the purpose of the legislation. In such cases we have followed their plain meaning. When that meaning has led to absurd or futile results, however, this Court has looked beyond the words to the purpose of the act. Frequently, however, even when the plain meaning did not produce absurd results but merely an unreasonable one ‘plainly at variance with the policy of the legislation as a whole’ this Court has followed that purpose, rather than the literal words.”

3. Griffin v. Oceanic Contractors, Inc., 458 U.S. 564 (1982):

“The plain meaning of legislation should be conclusive, except in the rare cases [in which] the literal application of a statute will produce a result demonstrably at odds with the intentions of its drafters.  In such cases, the intention of the drafters, rather than the strict language, controls.”

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