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Friday, June 12, 2020

Law Within Congress

I recommend that people read a new article in the Yale Law Journal on how the House and (especially) Senate parliamentarians function. You can the link here.

Here is the Abstract:

Procedure has long shaped how Congress operates. Procedural battles have been central to legislative contestation about civil rights, the welfare state, tax policy, and presidential impeachments. In these instances and many others, procedural disputes often turn not on written rules but on parliamentary precedents. These precedents constitute a hidden system of law that has received little scholarly attention, despite being critical to shaping what goes on in Congress.

This Article explores parliamentary precedent in Congress. Parliamentary precedent mostly resembles judicial precedent: both are common-law systems that rely on the arguments of adversarial parties. But the two systems differ in key respects. Parliamentary decision-making employs an especially strong form of stare decisis, is minimalist in the extreme, and relies freely on legislative purpose and legislative history as tools of interpretation.

These seemingly legal dynamics play out in the shadow of congressional politics. Understanding parliamentary precedent requires understanding the institutional positions of the parliamentarians, the nonpartisan officials who resolve procedural disputes. The parliamentarians’ distinctive jurisprudence reflects their tenuous positions—namely, that they can be removed, overruled, or circumvented by the majority party. Drawing on novel interviews with parliamentarians and the legislative staffers who work closely with them, this Article illuminates the intersection of law and politics in the making of parliamentary precedent.

A better understanding of parliamentary precedent contributes to our understanding of how Congress operates and the fault lines that emerge in an age of polarization and hardball. These dynamics also hold lessons for public law more broadly. First, the parliamentarians’ efforts to protect themselves from the political fray shed light on efforts by other governmental decision-makers (in all three branches) to do the same. Second, the development of parliamentary precedent provides insight into the relationships between positive law and common law and between law and politics. Third, understanding parliamentary precedent, like understanding other elements of Congress’s internal workings, can inform statutory interpretation.

Posted by Gerard Magliocca on June 12, 2020 at 04:14 PM | Permalink


It's important to understand the difference between 'polarization' and 'multiculturalism'.

Multicultural is when people do different things, and they allow others to do each of those different things--like when some people christians, others buddhists, and others atheists and all are legal.

Polarization is when libertarianism has broken down and people do different things and each group wants to force others to do their things, or prohibit others from doing their own thing--like when some people value gun ownership and others don't, but those who don't value it don't stop at not owning guns themselves, but want to disarm everyone else too.

Or when some people are heterosexuals and some are homosexuals and the heterosexuals want to outlaw homosexuality. Or those who don't smoke pot want to outlaw it. Or those who don't play violent video games or listen to gangsta rap want to outlaw them.

The question becomes, how does libertarianism break down in an educated (freedom-loving) society?

Posted by: Hayek | Jun 12, 2020 7:28:10 PM

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