Lawyers daily engage in it; courts are sometimes receptive to it; the public is rarely approving of it. Expanding the literal language of a statute by reading meaning into words, phrases and conceptual paradigms not otherwise manifested or obvious in the words enacted, is a language game which some call intellectual brilliance, while others deem to be disingenuous or otherwise dishonest, to be blunt about it. The “it”, of course, is the compendium of the expanded impact and relevance of consequences resulting from statutory language, some intended, others unintended.
Does it all result from the poor crafting of a statute? Sometimes. Is it expected in all statutory construction? Mostly. Can constriction, as the antithesis and corollary of an expanded interpretation, ever come about? Rarely. It is in the very nature and intuitive construct of a legal statute and inherent principle that expansion of that principle to include avenues and influences not otherwise originally intended is to be expected. That is the very nature of a law.
Sometimes, legislators knowingly write a statute with intended wiggle-room precisely for the lawyers and judges to wrangle over. What the general public fails to understand, however, is that each individual can be a singular guardian of the principle of expansion, in each case, with purposive intent and influences beyond, like tentacles on an octopus of fate and fleeting fairytales of justice.
Like the guardian standing at an entranceway, who hears a strange noise or movement emanating from beyond the periphery of his granted authority; how far should he venture? To what extent should he be curious? What parameters should preclude his investigation?
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are filing for Federal Disability Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the subtle reverberations and almost imperceptible ripples from each case can never be underestimated. The character of a case can only be properly compared by taking quantum leaps to cases from years ago; but clearly the benefits derived from prior cases, and precedents set from prior expansions of legal principles, cannot be denied.
The general thought is that individual cases represent merely a single raindrop in the expansive oceans of legal turbulence; but it is the individual case which can influence the compendium of legal principles through the unique argumentation of a previously unthought issue, brought in a light untold; viewed at an angle unstated.
Federal Disability Retirement is a parcel of law in a patchwork of quilts still being sewn; and each Federal or Postal employee who seeks to enter into the universe of laws, legal criteria and evidentiary significance, unintentionally walks into a cauldron of Federal Disability Retirement authorities which engulf and encapsulate statutes, regulations, case-laws and underlying legal principles.
How one uses them; to what extent one responds to the Standard Forms, which includes SF 3107 (for FERS) and SF 2801 (for CSRS and CSRS-Offset); and SF 3112 (for all three, FERS, CSRS and CSRS Offset); which evidentiary compendium is utilized; and the extent of legal argumentation and tools assuaged; all make a difference in expanding the significance of an individual case upon the greater universe of the feudal castle originally surrounded by a moat for protection, but where the guardian lowers the drawbridge and enters into territories hitherto uninhabited.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire