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FACT Report: Is Tying the Hands of Judges Really Bad?

Normally, judges give statutory words their normal and ordinary meaning, but today’s judges are increasingly deciding to “modernize” statutes giving old words like “marriage” and “sex” new meanings.

Last week the Tennessee Legislature passed a bill that tells judges that any undefined words in the law should be given their normal and ordinary meaning, and comments by senators made it clear that the meaning is the one the word had at the time the law was enacted.

Perhaps the most interesting comment in opposition to the bill came from Republican Steve Dickerson, who was concerned that telling courts that words should be interpreted according to what legislators meant at the time might “tie a judge’s hand” in a “fluid” society. Apparently, he doesn’t know that tying judges’ hands is what our Founders called the separation of powers.

The FACT Report, featured on several conservative radio stations, is a weekly one-minute audio commentary about a political or cultural issue affecting Tennesseans.

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