Statutory Interpretation, Legislative Inaction, and Civil Rights

This month the Supreme Court will hear reargument in Patterson v. McLean Credit Union on the question of whether section 1981 prohibits discrimination by private parties. Professor Farber identifies three issues which lie at the heart of Patterson: Must statutes be construed to conform to the intent of the drafters? Does legislative inaction provide reliable guidance to interpreters of statutes? And should the nature of the claim at issue – here a claim of civil rights – influence the interpreters? On this last point, Professor Farber argues that public values must be relevant to statutory interpretation and that judges should explicitly be guided by them.