Too Many Laws

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

I’m no supporter of Barbara Boxer, never have been and am not now, but I don’t object, as Carly Fiorina does, that Boxer has authored only five measures that became law in her time in the U. S. Senate. We have too many laws already.

The San Jose Mercury News ran articles focusing on the number of bills sponsored by lobbyists in Sacramento. The paper reported that there were 1,883 sponsored bills in the 2007-2008 two-year legislative session on top of 2,982 bills with no sponsors offered by legislators.

That’s 4,865 bills that were introduced in one session of which about 1500 became law. Fifteen-hundred new laws in one legislative session! Each session the law books get fatter and fatter and no one can know all the laws in those books and how they interact with each other.


Former United States Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan, Edwin Meese, wrote in May, "We are making and enforcing far too many criminal laws that create traps for the innocent but unwary, and threaten to turn otherwise respectable, law-abiding citizens into criminals."

George Mason University Law Professor Ilya Somin wrote last year on the Volkoh Conspiracy blog, "In civil law, we have a massive tort law suit system and hundreds of state and federal regulatory agencies that issue mindbogglingly complex regulations that require interpretation by experts if you want to avoid costly liability. And of course we also have an extremely complex tax system that requires many people to hire tax lawyers if they want to keep the IRS off their backs."

Of course, this is all too familiar to Californians – too many laws that often lawmakers do not understand when they are voting on them, and juries have trouble interpreting with they are judging a violation of the laws.

Can we simplify laws in such a complex society? I would hope so. At least, we should be able to reduce the number of laws on the books.

One of the problems comes from elected officials seeing themselves as, and being called, "lawmakers."  If they are called lawmakers shouldn’t they make laws?

Far fewer laws should be drafted so the "lawmakers" will have time to deliberate over them. I suppose "deliberators" doesn’t have the same ring to it — if only we could make it so.

And, for heaven’s sake, don’t allow legislators to name laws after themselves! That is a recipe for additional laws to be introduced.

From Moses the lawgiver through the Founding Fathers, those who present new laws are praised and honored.

Lets change course and heap praise on legislators for removing laws from the books as much or more than we praise them for adding new laws.

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