Single Subject Rules and the Legislative Process

68 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 25 Oct 2015

See all articles by Michael D. Gilbert

Michael D. Gilbert

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: August 12, 2009


Despite generating thousands of cases on important public issues, the single subject rule remains a source of uncertainty and inconsistency. The root of the problem lies in the inability to define the term "subject" using legal doctrine. This paper reexamines the single subject rule through the lens of public choice theory and finds that its purposes are wrongheaded. Logrolling is not necessarily harmful, and improving political transparency requires legislative compromises to be packaged together rather than spread across multiple acts. Riding is not a form of logrolling but an analytically distinct and more threatening practice. This analysis yields a precise, political definition of "subject" and a new framework for resolving single subject disputes.

Suggested Citation

Gilbert, Michael, Single Subject Rules and the Legislative Process (August 12, 2009). University of Pittsburgh Law Review, Vol. 67, p. 803, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Michael Gilbert (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Do you want regular updates from SSRN on Twitter?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics