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Noah Feldman

What Would Scalia Do With 2,447 Bottles of Wine?

He probably wouldn't have them destroyed, as a Pennsylvania judge has ordered.
Who's thirsty?

Who's thirsty?

Photographer: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Sometimes the name of a case says it all. Pennsylvania v. 2,447 Bottles of Wine is such an instance. After a county judge’s ruling, the state is poised to pour more than 1,300 bottles of fine wine down the drain -- all because of a misinterpretation of an obsolete, arcane law.

The court got this one wrong. In fact, it doesn’t matter which approach to statutory interpretation you prefer: Justice Antonin Scalia’s textualism or Justice Stephen Breyer’s purposivism. Either way, the wine shouldn’t be wasted.