statutory interpretation

Case Law

Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law DictionaryThe law based on judicial opinions (including decisions that interpret statutes), as opposed to law based on statutes, regulations, or other sources. Also refers to the collection of reported judicial...

Case of First Impression

Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law DictionaryA court case that presents a new question or issue for legal interpretation (or at least new within that court's jurisdiction). For example, the question may concern recently passed or rarely used...

Common Law

Law that is derived from judicial decisions instead of from statutes. Early American common law was taken from English common law. See, e.g. Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44 (1996).

Common Law Lien

Name for a category of liens that stem from the common law and do not depend on any statute or contract for their existence. Unless abolished by statute or judicial decision, common law liens generally have the force of law in each U.S. state.

Constitutional Avoidance

Constitutional Avoidance is the principal that, if possible, the Supreme Court should avoid ruling on constitutional issues, and resolve the cases before them on other (usually statutory) grounds. In practice, what this often means is that if the...


Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law DictionaryThe act of interpreting and giving meaning to a statute, law, contract, or will when there is some ambiguity or question about its meaning. Strict, or narrow, construction means considering only the...


Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law DictionaryTo determine the meaning of a written document, statute, or legal decision, based upon rules of legal interpretation.

Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.

Controlling Law

Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law DictionaryThe laws of the state which will be relied upon in interpreting or judging disputes involving a contract, trust, or other documents. Quite often an agreement will state as one of its provisions that the...

Davis-Bacon Act

A federal law that regulates prevailing wage rates on public works projects.


The process through which the legislature legalizes an act which was formerly a crime. see, e.g. Washington v. Harold Glucksberg, 521 US 702 (1997).