Articles Tagged with scalia

The “rule of lenity” “requires ambiguous criminal laws to be interpreted in favor of the defendants subjected to them.”

From Levin, Daniel and Stewart, Nathaniel, Wither the Rule of Lenity, Engage, November 16, 2009.  This is a claim or objection I have used from time to time, not always successfully.  Typically I’m using it as an argument regarding application of an R.C.M. or Mil. R. Evid., an argument by analogy I suppose.  Another way to express this would be that where there is an ambiguity the ambiguity should be construed against the writer.  Perhaps there is some hope?

In 2008, in United States v. Santos, the Supreme Court issued a plurality opinion holding that a key term in a federal money laundering statute was ambiguous and applied the rule of lenity to resolve the ambiguity in the defendants’ favor. The plurality involved just such a coalition of conservative and liberal Justices (Justices Scalia, Thomas, Ginsburg, and Souter; with Justice Stevens writing separately and agreeing that the rule should apply), raising the question of whether the rule may be entering a period of somewhat greater application…

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