Site-Specific Laws

23 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2014 Last revised: 14 Nov 2014

Date Written: 2013


Congress often enacts statutes that only apply to a specific place. This essay identifies the instances in which site-specific legislation is appropriate. It recounts the uses of such legislation, the theoretical debate surrounding it, and the circumstances in which it is desirable. Site-specific legislation plays an important role in enabling Congress to prescribe its preferred policy even when agreement on broader legislation. My suggestion, therefore, is that general legislation should remain the default for congressional action, but site-specific legislation is appropriate when (a) there are convincing reasons for adopting special rules for a particular place, (b) there is no agreement for the establishment of a new general rule, and (c) the legislation is enacted through transparent procedures.

Keywords: Congress, legislation, local conditions, polarization, appropriations riders, precedent, St. Croix River, National Park Service, Izembek National Wildlife Refuge

JEL Classification: K32

Suggested Citation

Nagle, John Copeland, Site-Specific Laws (2013). Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 88, p. 2167, 2013; Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 1433. Available at SSRN:

John Copeland Nagle (Contact Author)

Notre Dame Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0780
United States

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