In this essay, the author contends that the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 [AEDPA] has frustrated both the enforcement of federal rights and legitimate state interests. He lays most of the blame on the Supreme Court's methodology for construing AEDPA's provisions. The Court insists that poorly conceived and drafted provisions must be taken literally, whatever the consequences, and that every provision must be read to change habeas corpus law in some way. This approach has produced unfair, wasteful, and even bizarre results that might have been avoided if the Court had assessed AEDPA more realistically.

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