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Congressional Overrides of Supreme Court Statutory Interpretation Decisions, 1967-2011

Matthew R. Christiansen ; William N. Eskridge, Jr.

Tex. L. Rev., Vol.92 pp.1317-2211, 2014 [Periódico revisado por pares]

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  • Título:
    Congressional Overrides of Supreme Court Statutory Interpretation Decisions, 1967-2011
  • Autor: Matthew R. Christiansen ; William N. Eskridge, Jr.
  • Assuntos: Antidiscrimination; Interpretations; Constitutional; Interpretation; Significantly; Congressional; Demonstrating; Periodically; Conventional; Construction; Administrative Law; Antitrust & Trade Law; Bankruptcy Law; Civil Procedure; Civil Rights Law; Criminal Law & Procedure; Environmental Law; Governments; Healthcare Law; Immigration Law; Insurance Law; International Law; International Trade Law; Labor & Employment Law; Pensions & Benefits Law; Public Health & Welfare Law; Real Property Law; Tax Law
  • É parte de: Tex. L. Rev., Vol.92 pp.1317-2211, 2014
  • Descrição: ... Appendix 1 reports the statutory overrides, Supreme Court statutory opinions overridden, and the subject matter of the overrides that we found using both the committee-report method of the 1991 Eskridge study and the Westlaw method of the current study. ... Overall, the primary phenomenon is that the number of congressional overrides of Supreme Court statutory interpretation decisions dramatically increased, starting with the post-Watergate 94th Congress and ending with the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in the 105th Congress (1975-1998, a period of twenty-four years). ... The most urgent and important issues on the congressional agenda have shifted away from substantive law reform in the areas where overrides of judicial decisions proliferate - namely, civil rights, workplace rules, criminal law and habeas, federal jurisdiction and civil procedure, immigration, tax, bankruptcy, business regulation, intellectual property, and antitrust. ... As a great deal more congressional attention is devoted to the war on terror, macroeconomic tax and spending policy, health care and insurance, and international trade and nuclear proliferation, relatively less congressional attention has been paid to the superstatutes that the Supreme Court has been interpreting, and Congress has been overriding, for the last forty to fifty years. ... Most Litigated Statutes and Override Activity, 1967-2011 Most Litigated Statutes Congressional Committees Having Level of (Rehnquist Court) Jurisdiction Override Activity Internal Revenue Code of House Ways & Means and Senate Very High 1954 Finance Committees Federal Rules of Civil Judiciary Committees Low Procedure (1938) Bankruptcy Reform Act of Judiciary Committees Very High 1978 Employee Retirement Judiciary Committees Very Low Income Security Act of 1974 Habeas Corpus Act of 1966 Judiciary Committees Very High Social Security Act of House Ways & Means and Senate High 1935, as amended Finance Committees Civil Rights Act of 1871 Judiciary Committees Moderate ( � 1983) Civil Rights Act of Senate Health, Education, Labor Very High 1964, Title VII & Pensions Committee; House Education & Labor Committee--as well as the Judiciary Committees Federal Rules of Judiciary Committees Moderate Criminal Procedure Immigration & Judiciary Committees High Nationality Act of 1952 National Labor Relations Senate Health, Education, Labor Low Act of 1935 & Pensions Committee; House Education & Labor Committee Voting Rights Act of 1965 Judiciary Committees Very High Securities Acts of 1933 Banking Committees Moderate and 1934 Racketeer Act of 1974 Judiciary Committees Low Administrative Procedure Judiciary Committees Low Act of 1946 Americans with Judiciary Committees as well as Moderate Disabilities Act of 1990 Labor Committees Federal Rules of Judiciary Committees None Evidence of 1974 Age Discrimination in Labor Committees as well as High Employment Act of 1967 Judiciary Committees Civil Rights Attorneys' Judiciary Committees Low Fees Awards Act of 1978 The statutes that generated the most Supreme Court decisions (i.e., were most litigated) were, by and large, the ones that saw the most congressional overrides of those decisions. ... Interestingly, although the Department of Justice supported the idea of habeas reform, it remained largely neutral on the individual overrides contained in AEDPA, just as the Solicitor General had declined to file amicus briefs in most of the Supreme Court cases determining the procedural rights of state habeas complainants. ... As Figure 11 illustrates, those groups are not directly affected by most override statutes - but Figure 13 shows that Carolene groups and women have been highly successful in pursuing overrides of Supreme Court decisions rejecting their equality claims. ... Some of the most dramatic restorative overrides of the period - such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, the Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1982, the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, the 1991 CRA, the Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 - were statutes claiming to "restore" rights to minorities and women that the Supreme Court had erroneously "taken away" by stingy constructions of antidiscrimination laws. ... During litigation, the rulemaking authority often results in the agency having a significant Chevron deference advantage, meaning that the agencies governing these sectors are likely to prevail before the Court, reducing the need for overrides. ... Hypothesis 5: Decisions relying primarily on textualist canons are significantly more likely to be overridden than decisions relying primarily on legislative context, stare decisis, or deference to agency interpretations. ... SEE FIGURE IN ORIGINAL Notice here the contrast between restorative overrides and the rest of our data set. ... Hence, it is no surprise that Supreme Court statutory decisions that reject the views of the federal government, whether expressed as a party to the case or in an amicus brief (as in Silkwood), are significantly more likely to be overridden than statutory decisions that accept the views of the federal government. ... Indeed, much of the trend in the political valence of overrides is the result of the extreme ideological disparity in two areas: federal jurisdiction and procedure and civil rights. ... Civil Rights and Workplace: Congress Expands Employer Liability. - Recall from Figure 8 that civil rights decisions are about the same portion of overridden decisions as they are of the Court's statutory docket - but when they are overridden, they too follow a predictable pattern: overrides are disproportionately more likely to involve civil rights and workplace decisions favoring defendant employers and state institutions, such as Casey, than decisions favoring racial minorities, women, and people with disabilities (the primary complainants). ... Indeed, the most (in)famous example of the super-strong presumption of correctness the Court accords statutory precedents is an example of the legitimacy benefits of the override process. ... To determine whether an override was "deliberative" we examined both the reports and hearings to see how thoroughly members of Congress, the Executive Branch, and private parties identified and debated the costs and benefits of the proposed override. ... Thus, the 2009 Tobacco Control Act is, again, representative, for it was enacted only after thousands of pages of committee hearings across several Congresses and with significant input from smokers and tobacco companies, some of which ultimately supported the legislation. ... That Congress frequently overrides Supreme Court statutory interpretation decisions ought not to surprise most members of the House and Senate judiciary committees and their staff, but many other important participants in the nation's legislature would be surprised at the significant role overrides play in the evolution of statutory policy for so many areas of regulation. ... Most of the big restorative overrides of the Court's conservative Title VII jurisprudence have occurred for issues where the Court was rejecting the EEOC's interpretations - from General Electric Co. v. ... As Justice Scalia's Brand X dissent demonstrated, the Communications Act and other regulatory statutes create a huge policy space for agencies to update statutes in ways that are the functional equivalent to policy-updating overrides by Congress. ... His best legal argument was that two other provisions, and not � 9, of the 1973 Act were Congress's exclusive response to habitat threats: Section 7 explicitly barred federal projects from harming the habitat of endangered species, and � 5 authorized the Department to use its eminent domain power to secure needed habitat from private landowners, thereby leaving � 9's antitake regulation probably concerned with more targeted activities. ... With fewer overrides, five Justices on the Supreme Court have more freedom to impose their values - which for the last four decades have been much more libertarian or antiregulatory than the values of Congress (whichever political party is in control) - and this increases Professor Widiss's concern that the Supreme Court undermines statutory overrides by reading them narrowly and even counterproductively. ... Subject Matter of the Issue Before the Court Antitrust = 1 Federal Lands = 16 Armed Forces = 2 Health & Safety = 17 Banking & Finance = 3 Housing = 18 Bankruptcy = 4 Immigration = 19 Business Regulation = 5 Indian Affairs = 20 Civil Rights = 6 Labor Relations & Workplace = 21 Intellectual Property = 7 Maritime = 22 Criminal Law = 8 Pensions = 23 Education = 9 Taxation = 24 Energy = 10 Telecommunications = 25 Entitlement Programs = 11 Transportation = 26 Environment = 12 Veterans Affairs = 27 Federal Government = 13 National Security = 28 Foreign Affairs = 14 Habeas Corpus = 29 Federal Jurisdiction & Procedure = 15 Prisons = 30 Note: A case can have more than one subject matter. ... Appendix 3: Coding Congressional Overrides of Supreme Court Statutory Interpretation Decisions This Appendix elaborates on the coding methodology we followed for each of the 286 statutory overrides enacted by Congress between 1967 and 2011 (inclusive) that overrode one or more Supreme Court statutory interpretation decisions. ... At the other end of the spectrum, the restorative overrides not only replaced the decision's logic but also retroactively changed the legal regime prevailing prior to the override. 0 = Unclear 1 = Override made a marginal change to the law 2 = Override overrules the point of law but leaves the prior decision intact 3 = Override overrules the point of law and the outcome in the prior decision 4 = Override renounces the reasoning (often indicates a restorative override) 5 = Override renounces the reasoning and the outcome Was the override "restorative"? ... Based upon this kind...
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