On Justice Gorsuch’s first day on the U.S. Supreme Court he peppered lawyers with questions about the “plain meaning” of statutes:
The NY Times reported:
“But Justice Gorsuch approached the case with relish, and he made what is likely to become one of his signature points, that the court’s job is limited to reading the words of the statute under review.
‘Looking at the plain words of the statute,’ he told a lawyer, Christopher Landau. ‘If you could just help me with that.’
Justice Gorsuch returned to his by now usual refrain. “Why shouldn’t we follow the plain language and the traditional understanding of the word ‘action’?” he asked.
Justice Gorsuch’s predecessor on the Court, Antonin Scalia harshly criticized the Court’s reliance on legislative history as an aid in interpreting statutes. He argued that the Court should rely instead in most cases on a statute’s “plain meaning,” derived from an ordinary understanding of the words and structure of statutory text. Gorsuch and Scalia seem to be saying, “The hell with context, the hell with the worldview of the authors of the text.”
I have a remote association to this style of thinking; I associate to fundamentalist Christians. They seem to want to ignore the fact that Jesus and his disciples — the authors of the Christian bible — were Jews. They would have adherents ignore the Jewish context of the Christian bible and the Jewish worldview of that text’s authors. They would have adherents ignore the fact that the last supper was a Passover seder, for example. Again, their motto seems to be “The hell with context, the hell with the worldview of the authors of the text.”
That’s just my association.