As we see it, the most important trend coming from the Georgia Supreme Court in 2017 is the court’s adoption of textualism as the guiding principle of statutory interpretation in Georgia. Because of the growing impact of textualism on litigation, and the potential effect it will have on contracting parties, it is important that you take this trend into account both in the way you operate your business in Georgia and in any formal legal dispute.
We first wrote about the lengthy opinion issued by the Georgia Supreme Court in Lathrop v. Deal in an article for the Daily Report. While notable for its subject matter – holding that the doctrine of sovereign immunity restricted the manner and method in which state laws could be challenged as violating the Georgia Constitution – we opined that the bigger impact of the decision is its forthright embracing of textualism as an interpretative tool. To put it simply, textualism requires the court to apply the plain meaning of the statutory text at the time the statute was originally adopted. In Lathrop, the court clearly adopted this principle as reflected by its analysis of the applicable law’s first draft, written in 1861, and what particular words meant at the time that statute was originally written. Continue Reading