The Problem With Purpose in Statutory Interpretation:
In the comment thread on yesterday's thread on Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber, commenter Dilan Esper explains why he thinks the Ledbetter case is very easy despite the text of the statute:
  Fundamentally, I don't think Lebetter is a hard case at all, and that's why I think the Roberts Court defenders are full of it.
  The Civil Rights Act is a remedial statute with a remedial purpose. Obviously, the purpose of any limitations period in it cannot be to ensure that an employer who intentionally covers up wage discrimination will be able to get away with it.
  Anyone who reads the statute differently is OBVIOUSLY motivated by a hatred for employment discrimination laws, either because they don't believe in civil rights or because they simply don't like government imposing this sort of regulation of business. You don't read statutory language so contrary to its purposes otherwise.
  Dilan Esper's comment nicely illustrates why it doesn't work to take such an abstract view of a statute's "purpose" as a guide to interpret statutes. The problem, it seems to me, is that every statute has multiple purposes: Different parts of different statutes are products of different influences, and they all get pressed through the legislative process as products of compromise.

  For example, the part of the statute at issue in Ledbetter was the part of the statute designed to stop people from bringing claims from long ago. The very purpose of that section was to cut off valid claims after 180 days had passed. So if you're going to play the "purpose" game, you get to chose your purpose: Either you can say the purpose of the statute as a whole was remedial, and anyone who reads it contrary to its purpose is "OBVIOUSLY motivated by a hatred for employment discrimination laws," or else you can say that the purpose of the section cutting off claims was to cut of claims after 180 days, and any one who reads to let claims survive for years and even decades is "OBVIOUSLY motivated by a hatred" of limits on employment discrimination law. That doesn't seem like a very principled approach to statutory interpretation.