One Redeeming Quality About the 112th Congress

A Focus Back on Descriptive Rather Than Evocative Short Titles

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The consensus with regard to the 112th Congress is that it was a massive failure: the Congress passed fewer laws than in previous years, and the contemptuous debates over the debt ceiling and the so-called "fiscal cliff" did not win this Congress many supporters. So what redeeming qualities could have been present in such an irredeemable Congress? I believe that there was at least one: a returning focus on descriptive short titles for laws, rather than a perpetuation of the evocative and tendentious short titles that have been commonplace over the past couple of decades. A recent publication of mine explored what I called the "Congressional Short Title (R)Evolution," for over the past few decades, short titles have become more frequently used, longer, and more likely to employ acronyms or personalization; they have also increasingly used evocative words while they have decreasingly used technical, descriptive language. In fact, CQ Weekly recently reported on the revolution and highlighted my research, noting that short titles "often oversell what [laws] actually accomplish." Nevertheless, by decreasing the frequency of evocative language and increasing the use of technical- and descriptive-language short titles, members of the "most worthless, incompetent, do-nothing" Congress brought the lawmaking body back to the brink of rationality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalMichigan Law Review First Impressions
Volume112
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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Law
language
personalization
indebtedness
rationality

Keywords

  • Bills
  • Acts
  • US Congress
  • Short titles
  • personalised short titles

Cite this

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title = "One Redeeming Quality About the 112th Congress: A Focus Back on Descriptive Rather Than Evocative Short Titles",
abstract = "The consensus with regard to the 112th Congress is that it was a massive failure: the Congress passed fewer laws than in previous years, and the contemptuous debates over the debt ceiling and the so-called {"}fiscal cliff{"} did not win this Congress many supporters. So what redeeming qualities could have been present in such an irredeemable Congress? I believe that there was at least one: a returning focus on descriptive short titles for laws, rather than a perpetuation of the evocative and tendentious short titles that have been commonplace over the past couple of decades. A recent publication of mine explored what I called the {"}Congressional Short Title (R)Evolution,{"} for over the past few decades, short titles have become more frequently used, longer, and more likely to employ acronyms or personalization; they have also increasingly used evocative words while they have decreasingly used technical, descriptive language. In fact, CQ Weekly recently reported on the revolution and highlighted my research, noting that short titles {"}often oversell what [laws] actually accomplish.{"} Nevertheless, by decreasing the frequency of evocative language and increasing the use of technical- and descriptive-language short titles, members of the {"}most worthless, incompetent, do-nothing{"} Congress brought the lawmaking body back to the brink of rationality.",
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AB - The consensus with regard to the 112th Congress is that it was a massive failure: the Congress passed fewer laws than in previous years, and the contemptuous debates over the debt ceiling and the so-called "fiscal cliff" did not win this Congress many supporters. So what redeeming qualities could have been present in such an irredeemable Congress? I believe that there was at least one: a returning focus on descriptive short titles for laws, rather than a perpetuation of the evocative and tendentious short titles that have been commonplace over the past couple of decades. A recent publication of mine explored what I called the "Congressional Short Title (R)Evolution," for over the past few decades, short titles have become more frequently used, longer, and more likely to employ acronyms or personalization; they have also increasingly used evocative words while they have decreasingly used technical, descriptive language. In fact, CQ Weekly recently reported on the revolution and highlighted my research, noting that short titles "often oversell what [laws] actually accomplish." Nevertheless, by decreasing the frequency of evocative language and increasing the use of technical- and descriptive-language short titles, members of the "most worthless, incompetent, do-nothing" Congress brought the lawmaking body back to the brink of rationality.

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