Temporary Legislation

53 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2006


This paper provides a descriptive, positive, and normative analysis of temporary legislation, statutes containing a clause terminating legal authority on a specified future date. Notwithstanding the fact that a significant portion of the legislative docket consists of statutes that terminate automatically absent affirmative Congressional reauthorization in the future, the political dynamics of such statutes remain significantly under-theorized. Yet, temporary statutes have a long and storied pedigree both in the United States and elsewhere. After a historical overview, the paper outlines the major conceptual features of temporary statutes and demonstrates the implications for allocations of power and responsibility within and among the three branches of government, with a particular emphasis on the political economy of temporary legislation. Lastly, using a mixture of theoretical analysis and a case study, the paper argues for greater reliance on temporary statutes as a mechanism for responding to newly recognized risks.

Keywords: legislation, politics, sunset

Suggested Citation

Gersen, Jacob E., Temporary Legislation. University of Chicago Law Review, 2007, U Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 296, U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 130, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=911603

Jacob E. Gersen (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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