Justice Scalia's engaging essay, “Common-Law Courts in a Civil-Law System: The Role of United States Federal Courts in Interpreting the Constitution and Laws,” and the four comments it provokes, should provide lawyers, judges, and other lawmakers with an interesting evening. Instead of presenting a theoretical view of the role of the federal courts in interpretation, Justice Scalia sketches out a case for “textualism.” “Textualism” is one of several currently contending methods of interpreting statutes and the United States Constitution, and is currently popular among federal judges who see their role as restricting government's powers to those expressly stated in the written text.

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