Posted by: captainfalcon | August 17, 2014

No vehicles in the park

“No vehicles in the park” is the foundation of a classic legal thought experiment first proposed by HLA Hart that’s supposed to test various theories of legal interpretation.  (Here’s an overview; here’s the ABA using it in a lesson plan.)  Basically you run through “borderline cases” — cases that it seems, for one reason or another, intuitively wrong for the law to cover (e.g. rollerblades, a WWII truck memorial, an ambulance) and then rule out or refine interpretive theories that yield counterintuitive results (e.g. that rollerblades, a WWII truck memorial, or an ambulance is covered by the rule). 

Everyone who likes to collect natural examples of the “no vehicles in the park” problem should follow this case.  There are notable disanalogies — the issue in the linked case is whether a bicycle with a small motor attached to it is a “motor vehicle” and, most importantly, the linked case is a contract dispute (with special rules for resolving irreducible ambiguities) as opposed to a dispute over statutory interpretation — but it remains a possible source of hermeneutical hijinks on remand.


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