The Colloquialization of Crime: Why Understanding the History of the Law Matters

federal legislative historyWith the newest revelations about the communication between the Trump Campaign and a Russian lawyer who allegedly had ties to the Kremlin, many pundits and reporters are asking the same question: Is collusion a crime?

Despite the speculation and the outrage that is circling the news of the day, the fact is that, except in antitrust law, there is nothing in federal statutes and regulations that makes collusion a crime.

The difficulty comes from the way that collusion has been used in the past few months. In many cases, the word is used as shorthand for any seemingly inappropriate, illicit, or illegal coordination that may or may not have occurred. This colloquial approach has caused a heated conversation around the subject.

While some legal scholars argue that there is a case to be made over violation of campaign finance restrictions or making false statements to law enforcement or the federal government, the word still most frequently heard is still collusion.

For many, however, the political charge of the word collusion is what is become most important. “It will be important to distinguish between the political and the legal discussion,” Carrie Cordero, adjunct professor at Georgetown Law and former counsel to the assistant attorney general for national security, said in a report by Politico.

But in order to separate these two disparate conversations, pundits and reporters need to have an understanding of federal legislative history. Without such an understanding, it is very difficult to properly contextualize terms.

Of course, most lawyers don’t even have that level of understanding of federal legislative history. It has been well over 200 years since the creation of our constitution, after all. Attaining complete mastery of a document that significant and that old takes time and dedicated study.

That is why it is so important to engage legislative history researchers in an effort to broaden the understanding of any high profile case, whether you are writing a news report or hosting a podcast. It prevents the colloquialization of crimes that distract from what might be more substantial issues.

Legislative Intent Service, Inc. provides top quality research and analysis of federal and state statutes and regulations. Our services have been used by courts and administrative agencies at all levels. For more information, contact us today.