The Use Context Canon

A rule as written should be interpreted by reference to the meanings of the words themselves and the context in which they are used.


1. Estate of Cowart v. Nicklos Drilling Co., 505 U.S. 469 (1992); McCarthy v. Bronson, 500 U.S. 136 (1991):

“The plainness or ambiguity of statutory language is determined by reference to the language itself, the specific context in which that language is used, and the broader context of the statute as a whole.”

2. Vermilya-Brown Co. v. Connell, 69 S.Ct. 140 (1948):

“Words generally have different shades of meaning, and are to be construed if reasonably possible to effectuate the intent of the lawmakers; and this meaning in particular instances is to be arrived at not only by a consideration of the words themselves, but by considering, as well, the context, the purposes of the law, and the circumstances under which the words were employed.”

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