Conservatives are controlling most of the Supreme Court's closely divided cases so far this term by sticking to the words written by Congress.Yes, I understand nuance and interpretation. I understand that "Congress shall make no law..." is a starting point, not an ending point, for 1st Amendment freedoms. But contra the liberals' argument, first and foremost a law should mean what it says. While a meaning can be interpreted, and legality can be declared or denied by courts, the text of the law should be an obvious starting point and should carry significant weight.
The justices have settled challenges involving the rights of workers, immigrants, prisoners and patent owners by painstakingly defining the meaning of "for," "shall," "any" and "other," along with "satisfy" and "salesman."
This is what Gorsuch, the newest justice now entering his second year on the court, promised during his Senate confirmation in 2017 — to "try to understand what the words on the page mean, not import words that come from us."When Lewis Carroll wrote in Through The Looking Glass,
"If the words are plain, you stop," he said.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”his intent was to show the silliness of allowing words to mean whatever we want them to mean at the moment. The above was not intended to be a how-to for lefties. Words have meaning. And so do laws. If a law is poorly written, it's not the job of the judiciary to fix the law, it's the job of the legislature. And if a law is written in such a way that it's clear that the intent is different from what's clearly written, the legislature should rectify the law.
Courts should be less activist about making laws mean what people want them to mean.
Note: since the meanings of words do change over time, as do turns of phrase, I'm less a proponent of "textualism" doctrine than I am of "original meaning" doctrine.