role of court decisions in the interpretation of statutes

Statutes typically are enacted in “packages” as part of legislative efforts to regulate broad areas of concern. For example, alimony is covered in several statutes within a package of statutes dealing with divorce. Different statutes in the package can provide definitions, policy or purpose statements, elements, results, and exceptions. Thus, interpretation of statutes can be difficult due to the broad range of areas that they can cover.

The role of court decisions in the interpretation of statutes differs from nation to nation. This is due to the differing amounts of power vested in courts. Some nations choose to give more deference to an agency’s interpretation instead of the courts. In the U.S. judicial system, the courts’ interpretation of a statute is the law. Therefore, understanding the role of court decisions in statutory interpretation and how courts have interpreted similar statutes will enable you to foresee resulting changes to existing law.

With these thoughts in mind:

Provide an explanation of the role of court decisions in the interpretation of statutes. Be specific and use examples to support your explanation.

Support your response using the Learning Resources and other scholarly resources.


Bressman, L. S., & Gluck, A. R. (2014, April). Statutory interpretation from the inside—An empirical study of congressional drafting, delegation, and the canons. Stanford Law Review, 66(4), 725. (2003). The rule of law–In depth. Retrieved from… (2003). Analysis–In depth. Retrieved from…

Tolley, M. (2003). Judicial review of agency interpretation of statutes: Deference doctrines in comparative perspective. Policy Studies Journal, 31(3), 421–440.

Siegel, J. (2005). The polymorphic principle and the judicial role in statutory interpretation. Texas Law Review, 84(2), 339–394.

State Bar of Michigan. (n.d.). Law school for legislators: Rules of statutory interpretation. Retrieved from…

Optional Resources


Eskridge, W., Jr. (2013). Expanding Chevron’s domain: A comparative institutional analysis of the relative competence of courts and agencies to interpret statutes (Paper 4797). Faculty Scholarship Series. Retrieved from

Ross, M. (2014). A diamond in the rough: The transnational duty to prevent human trafficking in the protocol. Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, 21(2), 325+. Retrieved from…

Maranville, D. (2003). Helpful hints for confused law students: How to read a statute: MAP it! Retrieved from…

van Zyl Smit, J. (2007). The new purposive interpretation of statutes: HRA section 3 after Ghaidan v Godin-Mendoza. Modern Law Review, 70(2), 294–306. Use the Academic Search Premier database, and search using the article’s title.

Policy Memorandum Samples…