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U.S. Supreme Court

Court Interprets Statutes More than Constitution

Posted May 29, 2007 8:28 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Forty-one out of 73 cases accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court this term deal with statutory issues, a breakdown that is not all that unusual.

More than half the court’s cases are statutory, according to an article in the New York Times.

An example of a statutory case is a pending cert petition asking the court to define the term “within 75 miles.” The disagreement is over whether the term means as the crow flies, or as a car travels on winding roads.

The definition matters under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which applies to companies that employ at least 50 people within 75 miles of a plaintiff’s workplace.

The article cites another example from a court decision last term. It held that a law exempting the U.S. Postal Service from liability for “negligent transmission” of mail does not shield it from damages in the case of a person injured by tripping over a package.

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