The Problems with Legislative History

From Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., 545 U.S. 546, 568 (2005):

First, legislative history is itself often murky, ambiguous, and contradictory. Judicial investigation of legislative history has a tendency to become, to borrow Judge Leventhal's memorable phrase, an exercise in "'looking over a crowd and picking out your friends.'" See Wald, Some Observations on the Use of Legislative History in the 1981 Supreme Court Term, 68 Iowa L. Rev. 195, 214 (1983). Second, judicial reliance on legislative materials like committee reports, which are not themselves subject to the requirements of Article I, may give unrepresentative committee members--or, worse yet, unelected staffers and lobbyists--both the power and the incentive to attempt strategic manipulations of legislative history to secure results they were unable to achieve through the statutory text.

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