BYU Law Review


Our statute books use the word “any” ubiquitously in coverage and exclusion provisions. As any reader of the Supreme Court’s statutory interpretation docket would know, a large number of cases turn on the contested application of this so-called universal quantifier. It is hard to make sense of the jurisprudence of “any.” And any effort to offer a unified approach—knowing precisely when its scope is expansive (along the “literal-meaning” lines of “every” and “all”) or confining (having a contained domain related to properties provided by contextual cues)—is likely to fail. This Article examines legislative drafting manuals, surveys centuries of Court decisions, and conducts in-depth pairwise comparisons of “any” cases to show the word’s flexible set of uses in its multiple statutory guises. After evaluating evidence of the variability of “any,” we recommend a new approach, a form of an “any” canon. We encourage adjudicators to appreciate the complexity of “any” more systematically and to consult a full range of sources—as even full-throated textualists have authorized from time to time—offering the relevant larger context judges will need to ascertain the scope of “any” in any given statutory scheme.


© 2023 Brigham Young University Law Review