The Plain Language Canon

If the language is plain and unambiguous, and the rule is coherent and consistent with the rest of the rules, use the rule as written.


1. United States v. Ron Pair Enterprises, Inc., 489 U.S. 235 (1989):

“The first step in interpreting a statute is to determine whether the language at issue has a plain and unambiguous meaning with regard to the particular dispute in the case. The inquiry must cease if the statutory language is unambiguous and the statutory scheme is coherent and consistent.”

2. 62 Cases, More or Less, Each Containing Six Jars of Jam v. U.S., 71 S.Ct. 515 (1951):

“But our problem is to construe what Congress has written. After all, Congress expresses its purpose by words. It is for us to ascertain-neither to add nor to subtract, neither to delete nor to distort.”

3. Barnhart v. Sigmon Coal Co., Inc., 122 S.Ct. 941 (2002):

“As in all statutory construction cases, we begin with the language of the statute.”

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