Deborah A. Widiss

90 Texas L. Rev. 859

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In this article, Professor Widiss examines congressional overrides and a problem she calls the “hydra problem.” First, she explores the challenge that overrides pose to the standard rule of precedent and defines the hydra problem.  She then discusses in detail the multistep conversation between the courts and Congress regarding the standard of causation in employment discrimination statutes and imagines an alternative version of the story to illustrate how the interpretative conventions courts use to interpret overrides improperly minimize the significance of Congressional interventions relative to judicial interpretations.  She also uses the rapid application of Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc. in other contexts and bills Congress has considered to override Gross to argue that the putative response that the Court indicates it expects from Congress is unreasonably difficult for Congress to achieve and could cause significant new problems. Finally, Professor Widiss argues that courts should instead adopt interpretive rules that more fairly respect the institutional realities of Congress because this would better permit overrides to play their expected role as a means for Congress to signal disagreement with judicial interpretations of statutes and promote the orderly and consistent development of statutory law.