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In spring 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decided two consolidated cases construing the Federal Tort Claims Act, U.S. v. Kwai Fun Wong and U.S. v June, Conservator. The Court majority, 5-4, per Justice Kagan, ruled in favor of the claimants and against the Government in both cases. On the face of the majority opinions, Wong and June come off as straightforward matters of statutory construction. But under the surface, the cases gave the Court a chance to wrestle with fundamental questions of statutory interpretation. The divide in Wong and June concerns the role of the courts vis-à-vis Congress — one side on the Court more willing to wield judicial prerogative and challenge Congress to keep pace; the other side on the Court more determined to cast itself as mere umpire, calling balls and strikes.


Originally published by Engage (a publication of the Federalist Society) in 2015.