November 14, 2019

Gene Schaerr Discusses How SCOTUS Considers Corpus Linguistics

Schaerr-Jaffe partner Gene Schaerr discussed corpus linguistics at the 2019 American Bar Association’s Administrative Law Conference in Washington, DC on November 14.

Gene Schaerr Speaks at the ABA’s Administrative Law Conference

A growing body of jurisprudence relies on the method, utilizing empirical analysis of large electronic collections of naturally occurring language to illuminate constitutional or statutory meaning.

The panel, ‘Statutory Interpretation and Corpus Linguistics: Enhancing Persuasiveness or Adding Complexity?’ explored how the emerging interpretive tool works, arguments for and against its use, and whether and under what circumstances to utilize it in litigation briefs.

“It’s a tool–not an algorithm, but a tool–for making sound judgments about how a word or phrase would likely have been understood by those who enshrined it in a statute,” Schaerr said in explaining why justices are inclined to take corpus linguistics seriously.