Law 927 Legislation
Professor Healy's comments: This course provides a general introduction to legislation and the legislative process. Its goal is to help students develop a theoretical and practical understanding of statutes so that they have competence in working with the many statutes that are not specifically studied in law school courses. Our study focuses on the federal legislative process both because lawyers will typically be responding to problems arising under federal statutes and because the lessons learned in studying the federal process will also be useful for understanding state statutes.
This course begins with an overview of the legislative process by examining case studies, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that illustrate different models of the legislative process. These introductory materials provide a context for understanding House and Senate procedures, the transactions that often motivate legislators' decisions, and the impact that a court's theory of the legislative process may have on interpreting Congress' work product. Following these introductory materials, the course will turn to a detailed consideration of the concept of representation by a legislature, including relatively brief examinations of one person-one vote, the Voting Rights Act, gerrymandering, and campaign finance regulation. The class will then consider legal process theory and the roles that judicial review, implied rights of action, and separation of powers play in that theory. During the last part of the course we will consider statutory construction in detail. We will discuss and critique the rules and canons of statutory construction, as well as the use of legislative history in interpreting statutes.