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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Statutory Interpretation Quiz

As a statutory interpretation teacher in Arkansas, I was excited to see that Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe might call a special legislative session so legislators can fix a law passed during the most recent  legislative session, which ended in May and is not scheduled to meet again until January 2009 (Arkansas has a part-time legislator that only meets for 60 days every other year). 

The law in question was intended to raise the minimum age to marry to 18.  Prior to the new law, the minimum age to marry was 16 for girls and 17 for boys.  Also, the new law was supposed to create an exception so that pregnant teenagers who are under 18 can marry with parental consent.  I have pasted the text of the law below.  Can you spot the error in it?  The answer is after the bump (I like bump more than jump). 

"In order for a person who is younger than eighteen (18) years of age and who is not pregnant to obtain a marriage license, the person must provide the county clerk with evidence of parental consent to the marriage."

Instead of creating an exception for pregnant girls who are under 18 to get parental consent for marriage, the extraneous "not" in the law establishes that any child who is not pregnant can marry so long as the child's parents consent to it.  In other words, a toddler can get a marriage license if the toddler's parents give their consent--assuming, of course, that the toddler isn't pregnant.

Posted by Zachary Kramer on August 18, 2007 at 12:07 PM | Permalink


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Tracked on Aug 22, 2007 1:22:42 AM


Katie, as far as I know, the plan is just to fix the mistake.

Posted by: Zak Kramer | Aug 18, 2007 9:26:59 PM

Are they going to change it to read merely that a teenager who IS pregnant and under 18 can get married with parental consent? Because that would create a situation where a pregnant girl can marry her 18 year old boyfriend but not her 17 year old one.

Posted by: KatieM | Aug 18, 2007 1:33:35 PM

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