Monday, November 14, 2011

“The Cornerstone of Statutory Interpretation”

“The Cornerstone of Statutory Interpretation”
The recent ruling of the Kentucky Court of Appeals in Beverage Warehouse, Inc. v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, No. 2009-CA-002020-MR (Oct. 28, 2011) (To Be Published) is for the most part a tripartite analysis as to whether particular determinations made in connection with the issuance of a liquor license constitute “orders” and how and when those particular orders may and may not be appealed.  No doubt all of this is quite helpful to those who regularly practice in retail liquor license regulation and the disputes that arise in connection therewith.  In contrast, what I found interesting was the Court’s discussion of the rules of statutory construction.  Citing Aldridge v. Commonwealth, 232 S.W. 619, 621 (Ky. 1921) and it quoting Bosley v. Mattingly, 14B Mon. 89 (Ky. 1853), the
Beverage Warehouse Court
recited what it identified as “the cornerstone of statutory interpretation”:
It may be proper in giving a construction to a statute to look to the effects and consequences when its provisions are ambiguous, or the legislative intention is doubtful.  But, when the law is clear and explicit, and its provisions are susceptible of but one interpretation, its consequences, if evil, can only be avoided by a change of the law itself, to be effected by legislative, and not judicial action.
The court should construe statutes in accordance with the legislative intent, since it is always to be presumed the Legislature designed the statute to take effect, and not be a nullity.

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