The plain meaning rule in interpreting statutes
Dear Editor, The United States Supreme Court, in King v. Burwell, a recent case about what is commonly called “Obamacare,” in a decision written by the Chief Justice of that Court, Mr. John Roberts, invoked the well-known Plain Meaning rule used in courts worldwide and said: “If the statutory language is plain, we must enforce it according to its terms.” See King v. Burwell, 135 S. Ct. 2480, 2489 (2015).
Guyana and the United States have courts with a common English origin. In both countries, the Plain Meaning rule is applicable to interpret statutes.
Here, the relevant statute is Article 106 (6) of the Constitution of Guyana which clearly states: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.”
The constitution is silent as to the meaning of the word “majority.” The word is not ambiguous. That is, it does not have two meanings. We ought to read it for its plain meaning. Invoking the Plain Meaning rule in the case at hand, thirtythree is a “majority” over thirty-two. Government was defeated.
Yours faithfully, Rakesh Rampertab