Federal Legislative History - 2019 - DIGITAL AUDIO DOWNLOAD


Alex Philipson, Administrative Attorney, Massachusetts Superior Court
Senior Reference Attorney Brian Harkins

Legislative history is a critically important advocacy tool in Federal Court when statutory language is ambiguous and begs for clarification. Federal judges invite and apply the use of legislative history to avoid incongruous results, illuminate drafting errors, determine specialized meanings, or choose reasonable interpretations of politically controversial statutes.

In these and other instances, Congress’s intent must be inferred from the statute’s legislative history, which successful advocate’s must stitch together from a variety of sources including:

• The text of the bill and proposed amendments that were accepted or rejected
• Transcripts of hearings conducted by Congressional committees responsible for the bill
• Committee reports written about the bill
• Transcripts of House and Senate floor debates related to the bill

Alex Philipson, who has taught classes in appellate writing at New England Law Boston and Northeastern University Law School, and Senior Reference Attorney Brian Harkins show the “how” and “where” to find and interpret these and other sources of legislative history.

This program teaches advocates the research skills necessary to reconstruct a statute’s legislative history for use in pleadings, briefs and oral arguments.

The audio of this program was recorded at the Social Law Library on November 13, 2019.

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