Jefferson’s wisdom

“Whenever the words of a law will bear two meanings, one of which will give effect to the law, and the other will defeat it, the former must be supposed to have been intended by the Legislature, because they could not intend that meaning, which would defeat their intention, in passing that law; and in a statute, as in a will, the intention of the party is to be sought after.”

1–Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 1808. ME 12:110

“When an instrument admits two constructions, the one safe, the other dangerous, the one precise, the other indefinite, I prefer that which is safe and precise. I had rather ask an enlargement of power from the nation, where it is found necessary, than to assume it by a construction which would make our powers boundless.”

2–Thomas Jefferson to Wilson Nicholas, 1803. ME 10:418

“Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure.”

3–Thomas Jefferson to William Johnson, 1823. ME 15:450

Source: http://famguardian.org/subjects/politics/thomasjefferson/jeff1020.htm
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