Private Matters: Family and Race and the Post-World-War-II Translation of 'American'
Albany Law School
International Review of Social History, Vol. 46, p. 209, 2001
The US Constitution preserves the right of the people to petition the government for redress of grievances. This right allows individuals to request private legislation from Congress and, as such, private bill petitions involve individual claims or pleas for relief for a specified person, or persons. Private petitions to Congress fall into two principal categories: claims against the US government (e.g., claims stemming from automobile accidents with government vehicles) and relief from immigration and naturalization laws. Although private laws concerning immigration and naturalization have influenced later public legislation by highlighting areas in need of reform, the private laws have limited application. Other than serving as precedent for subsequent private legislation for similarly situated individuals making requests for enactment of private laws, the laws do not benefit anyone other than the named beneficiaries of the bills.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 26
Keywords: US Constitution, Private Legislation, Immigration and Naturalization Laws
Date posted: February 18, 2010
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