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    letters | tangled up in law

    Courts must look at the statute as a whole

    Jeff Jacoby ignored one of the fundamental principles of statutory interpretation when he concluded that the Supreme Court distorted the law in the Obamacare subsidy case, King v. Burwell (“Torturing the law,” Opinion, July 2). This principle, often repeated, is that courts must interpret or construe statutes by looking at the statute as a whole and not in isolated parts. The principle, also known as a rule of construction, empowers courts to disregard single sentences if they conflict with the purpose and intent of the whole statute.

    The purpose of this rule is to give effect to legislation, not to override it. It is Jacoby who ignores this rule when he simplistically concludes that it is the Supreme Court that ignored the law.

    John L. Hodge, Jamaica Plain

    The writer is a retired lawyer.