August 14, 2008
As with any public official, once judges have broadened powers—whether properly constituted or not—they prune them rarely. However, the Mississippi Supreme Court has, over the past three decades, proven the exception. As explained in a previous white paper by James W. Craig and Michael B. Wallace, from 1980 to 2004, the Mississippi Supreme Court gradually reduced its interpretive reach in key areas such as statutory interpretation and the law of standing.
This paper updates Craig and Wallace’s work and shows that, over the past four years, the Mississippi Supreme Court has continued on that path. The focus will be on the court’s performance as an interpreter of statutes, since that area provides the largest sampling of decisions. At the same time, the paper will note some cases where the court has not been as restrained.