Legislative History

Legislative Process
Compiled Legislative Histories
Bills and Resolutions
Bill Tracking
Congressional Reports
Floor Proceedings
Congressional News
Historical Congressional Materials
Legislative Intent
Presidential Statements


Legislative History

  • Documentation of the process of the enactment of a law
  • Legislative Intent
    • Reasons for enactment
    • Issues considered
    • Resolving ambiguities
    • Explaining the language used
  • Bill Tracking
    • Status of pending bills

Using Legislative History

  • Legislative Intent
    • Reasons for enactment
    • Issues considered
    • Choosing among reasonable interpretations of language
    • Statutes sometimes intentionally vague or unclear
  • Debate over use
    • Sponsor's views
    • Textualists:  Plain meaning of legislative language only
    • Some judges give it weight in interpreting the legislature's intent; others give it little or no weight
    • Reduced use in recent years
    • Exxon Mobil v. Allapattah Services:  Impermissible to consult legislative history when statutory language is unambiguous
  • General purpose of act vs. smaller provisions
  • Bill Tracking
    • Status of current and pending legislation
    • State of the legislative process
    • Monitoring for legislation that may affect a statute relied on in a case, or may affect a client

Starting Point citations

Video clip:  The Daily Show explains Congress and lobbyists

TI:GER Program video

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