Updating Statutory Interpretation

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 Aleinikoff examines in depth the first issue raised by Professor Farber. Using metaphors of the archeological and the nautical Professor Aleinikoff describes theories of originalism and their application to statutory interpretation. Concluding that there are nonoriginalist (or nonarcheological) elements implicit in these theories, he proceeds to consider how an explicitly nonoriginalist (or nautical) theory of interpretation might work He concludes by commenting on the application of such a theory to Patterson.