Politics & Philosophy by Dr. Martin D. Hash, Esq.
The winds of politics often change direction, and the Must Have law of the previous administration becomes the albatross on the next. A simple solution is to add a Sunset provision into laws so that they expire after a certain goal is achieved or at most a time limit is reached, perhaps after a decade or so, unless further legislative action is taken for extension. Marque examples include the Patriot Act which was renewed, and the Assault Weapons Ban which was allowed to expire. The first philosophical reference to a sunset provision of laws dates back to Plato, and they were a mandate of Roman law. Societies through the millennia have recognized the need to minimize the number of laws, not let them multiply into incomprehensible obscurity like they do today.
Similar to explicitly written Sunset clauses, there is also implied termination of laws, called “desuetude;” a word unfamiliar to most Americans but not uncommon throughout the world. It's a legal doctrine that causes laws to become unenforceable by a long habit of non-enforcement or lapse of time; basically an automatic repeal of inactive or obsolete laws. Canada and Australia actually inserted desuetude into their constitutions, and it had some popularity in U.S. last century when about half of the States adopted it. However, at the federal level, the political tactic has been to wrap all budget items, which expire every year, into a giant “omnibus” bill then only allow a single yea or nay vote on everything all together, which defeats the whole intent of a Sunset.
Categories | PRay TeLL, Dr. Hash
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