Aug 11

There is an inconsistency in the way in which proposed legislative changes are named at the Federal and State levels and I’m curious if anyone can provide insight about the possible rationale behind this discrepancy. Propositions up for vote at the State level are always named like “Prop 101” – you have to read it to know what the heck it does. Federal Acts, however, have vanilla names like the Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind, and the most recent travesty The Protect America Act of 2007 .

Presumably the reason for naming a piece of proposed legislation is so that voters can talk about it, assign meaning and remember which proposal does what rather than trying to track a collection of numbered items. The only problem with this method though is that it introduces a naming bias into the equation- who is going to argue against something well-intentioned-sounding as the “Protect our Citizens Act” or the “Prevent Car Accidents Act?” And you would think the situation that is supposedly remedied by assigning descriptive names is less problematic at the Federal level since these things are voted on by Senators and Congress people- it’s their job to be knowledgeable of what each does (ie. they shouldn’t need the mnemonic benefit of descriptive titles). I would expect a Senator elected to his/her role to be able to keep track of these where I wouldn’t expect the same of the average citizen. I’ll refrain from a rant about how so many liberty restrictions have been recently submarined into effect under red-white-and-blue-colored titles. But I’m curious: if they’re going to use descriptive names for proposed legislative changes at the Federal level, why not at the State level? I’m admittedly not up on my US history so I may be off with the nomenclature of Acts, Proposals, Bills, Laws, etc but I would think intuitively this practice should be the reverse of what it is now given the voting constituency in each situation. Anyone? Bueller?

2 Responses to “Why isn’t Federal proposed legislation nameless like State Propositions?”

  1. Sean – is the Protect America Act of 2007 the one that pretty much revokes our constitutional right to privacy, warrantless wiretapping, etc?

    And why do these creepy big brother acts all have such horrible, “patriotic” sounding names? Makes it that much worse. I’m just glad my parents didn’t decide to name me Akhmed.

  2. Tim says:

    Our federal government is run by manipulative scum and criminals.

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