Defining and Defending Obvious Words

It has long been the rule that courts should give words their normal and ordinary meaning, but with judges increasingly taking it upon themselves to “modernize” statutes, the Tennessee Senate yesterday sent to Gov. Haslam Senate Bill 1085 that tells courts that any undefined words in the law books should be given their normal and ordinary meaning.

Perhaps the most interesting comment in opposition to Senate Bill 1085 came from Republican Steve Dickerson, who was concerned that telling courts that words should be interpreted according to what legislators meant might “tie a judge’s hand” in a “fluid” society.

Tying their hands is what our Founders called the separation of powers.

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