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Diagramming Interpretation

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Sentence diagramming—a method of showing the relationship between different parts of a sentence—has long been used by judges to interpret legal texts. This Comment documents how judges employ sentence diagrams in constitutional, statutory, and contract cases. It finds that diagramming plays an important role in constitutional and statutory cases, complementing traditional canons of legal interpretation, but that diagramming is less often used in contract cases for fear of disadvantaging grammatically unsophisticated parties. In addition, this Comment defends the practice of judicial diagramming as a way of improving textualist interpretation and promoting broader values of judicial opinion writing.

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