What Is Legislative Intent and How Do You Find It?

what is legislative intent

Legislative intent is the underlying purpose behind a particular law. When you read a piece of legislation, you must ask yourself, “Why was this law passed? What was the purpose behind it?” If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you’ll struggle to understand the original intent of the law.

In order to find legislative intent, you’ll need to consider the bill’s context and surrounding debate. You’ll also need to look into the bill’s history and what lawmakers said during the debate. To help you better understand how legislative intent works, here’s a detailed background of what you need to know.

Why Is Legislative Intent Important?

To answer ‘what is legislative intent,’ one needs to know why it’s important in the first place. Ultimately, it’s important to know the underlying purpose behind a law because it lets you know exactly what function a given law will serve as these things change from time to time. For example, according to History.com, there have been 27 constitutional amendments in the US, which goes to show how intent can change laws and vice versa.

It also shows readers why lawmakers chose to pass a particular bill or not. Knowing the purpose behind a law gives you the ability to assess it with more insight and accuracy. Without legislative intent, every law appears to serve the same function.

How to Spot Legislative Intent

Now that you know what to look for when it comes to looking for legislative intent, it’s time to get started. Keep in mind, legislative intent is not something that you can spot out of the blue. It takes time and practice to fully understand it. Asking yourself these questions will help you find legislative intent. When you learn to ask these questions, you’ll be able to spot legislative intent like a pro. What function does the law serve? What was the debate surrounding the law like? Who supported and opposed the law? Who wrote the bill? What were the arguments for and against the bill?

The Importance of Legislative Intent in Judicial Decisions

It’s important to note that judicial decisions often reference legislative intent. This means that intent is an essential element of many judicial decisions. Judges will often read the intent into laws that aren’t explicitly stated. If they don’t find intent in a statute, they’ll often decide that the law is void or unconstitutional.

It’s important to remember that you can’t fully understand the intent behind a law if you don’t know what the intent behind it is. If you find yourself asking, What is legislative intent? we’ve got you covered. Check out our search functions at Legislative Intent Services today to read more about recent bills.