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William Draper Lewis, of Pennsylvania:
This is the third annual report of the committee. The appointment of the committee was due to a feeling that we should not only point out the evils resulting from poorly drafted bills in Congress and in state legislatures, but that we should also make constructive suggestions for correction of these evils.
The first resolution appointing the committee in 1912 asked the committee to report whether there was not a possibility of the establishment of an agency, in connection with Congress and the state legislatures, to assist in the drafting of legislation. The committee made an affimative report to the effect that the establishment of legislative drafting and reference bureaus on right lines would contribute to the improvement of the form of legislation. The American Bar Association, at the meeting at which that report was made, recommended the establishment of such agencies by Congress and by those states which had not already established them, and the improvement along certain lines suggested by some of the agencies already established. Since that resolution was adopted one of the duties of the committee has been to urge the establishment of legislative drafting and reference bureaus. A number of bureaus have been established in the last few years, and the action of the Association in each case has been a decided contributing factor. Your action has also tended to improve the organization of bureaus heretofore established.
The work of the legislative drafting and reference bureaus of the country has been set forth in the appendix to the present annual report printed on page 594 in a series of letters from the heads of each of the drafting bureaus. In the first annual report of the committee, we not only recommended the establishment of these bureaus where not already established, but we went one step further and recommended that the Association see if it were not practicable to assist, with the co-operation of other bodies interested, in the creation of a manual of legislative drafting to contain forms for often repeated clauses, and also a discussion under a topical index of questions which come before a draftsman and the principles on which a draftsman should proceed. The Association adopted a resolution directing the committee to prepare a manual of legislative drafting and submit
it for approval. All that we have been able to do this
and all that we will perhaps be able to do for two or three years, is to submit for consideration by the Association portions of the manual-not for final action on your part, but simply in order that members interested may read and criticise the work of the committee, so that we may have the benefit of the suggestions for improvement.
One other matter was referred to the committee last year, namely, whether there was not, or could not be created, some agency to improve the form of bills submitted through the initiative. The labors of the committee on the manual have prevented them from making any report on that subject. They do, however, print—as Appendix E., of the report, page 605,-a report of William A. Schnader, who has made a special study of the operation of the initiative. The committee merely recommends the report to the Association for consideration.
The resolution which the committee asks you to adopt, which is largely a repetition of the resolution passed last year, is :
“Resolved, That the Special Committee on Legislative Drafting be continued and directed to continue to prepare for submission to this Association a legislative manual which will contain a collection of directions, or suggestions, for drafting laws, and model clauses for constantly recurring provisions and problems, and the committee is hereby authorized to co-operate for the purpose with other organizations and individuals; and the committee is further authorized to continue any research pertinent to the improvement of the form of our statutory law and report the results of its investigations to this Association.” I move the adoption of the recommendation. Ernest Morris, of Colorado:
I am going to vote in favor of the resolution, but I call attention to one statement in the report which needs to be challenged. It is contained in the report of William A. Schnader, of the Pennsylvania Bar, reading as follows:
“Attention is called to such bodies as the Peoples Power League of Oregon and the Direct Legislation League of Colorado, both of which have proposed a comparatively large number of measures in their respective states . . . . rough drafts the proposed measures and circulates them for suggestion and criticism
... the Colorado Direct Legislation League is even more careful in its method of preparing measures. Under its Constitution
no measure can be initiated by the league unless it has been brought before three meetings of the entire membership of the league and passed three readings.”
The members of the Colorado Bar here present, who understand the local situation, feel, I think, convinced that this statement is largely overdrawn. This league consists of a body of so-called reformers
I am speaking on the report of the committee, and I think this is a matter that ought to be corrected for the benefit of the Association.
You may proceed, although the Chair is in doubt about your being in order.
Ernest Morris :
I was about to say that the legislation heretofore proposed by the Colorado Direct Legislation League is of such style and character that a part of it is absolutely unintelligible and will not bear the test of clearness or lucidity.
William Draper Lewis:
May I correct what may be an erroneous impression given by the gentleman from Colorado? The excerpt which he read is not contained in the report of the committee. The committee expressly desire to have it known that they are not responsible for anything contained in the report of Mr. Schnader. He has devoted considerable study to the subject; and I may say parenthetically that his positive recommendations have given considerable offense to those who believe in the initiative in many of the states. Nevertheless the committee has nothing to do with the merits of the initiative; neither has it anything to do officially with whether Mr. Schnader's statements are correct or are not correct. There is, however, one thing which the committe has to do with, and that is that it does not print as an appendix to its report anything which did not come from an impartial examiner who had devoted considerable time to the subject. We were careful to ascertain that Mr. Sehnader fulfilled this requisite.
On vote taken the resolution was adopted.
(See Report in Appendix, page 532.)
John H. Wigmore, of Illinois, is Chairman of the committee. He has not called a meeting of the committee, but he has corresponded with other members, and has prepared a report, and has explained to me the reason why it seemed desirable that the committee be continued with the power it now has.
Since the Association has grown somewhat rapidly from a comparatively small numerical representation of the different states to one now numbered by thousands, it is a difficult problem to solve how we shall draft a constitution that will make us a deliberative body, yet have so large a membership. With a fairly large number of members gathered at any meeting, it is impossible to give intelligent consideration to any new matter. For years, and very wisely as it seems to the members of the committee, the Association has pursued the practice of depending mainly upon the reports of committees, unless there is some very obvious question of policy that can be disposed of at once on the floor.
I mention this situation only in order that the Association may see how necessary and desirable it is that the special committee should proceed very carefully. I think we shall perhaps next year be able to report a plan for consideration.
William A. Ketcham, of Indiana :
The gentleman from Pennsylvania adds that they should go carefully in studying the situation.
Walter George Smith:
I hope the gentleman from Indiana does not think we are going to act rashly.
W. A. Ketcham:
On vote taken, the committee was continued.
(See Report in Appendix, page 615.)
Thomas W. Shelton, of Virginia :
Since the making of the report of the Committee on Uniform Judicial Procedure we have had the good fortune to confer with United States Senator Sutherland who has been of great assistance and who has also had a large part in the creation of two of the bills. We have drawn a resolution which I ask leave to read, and the adoption of which I move.
The Chair hearing no objection, the gentleman from Virginia will read the resolution.
Thomas W. Shelton :
“Be It Resolved, That the Committee on Uniform Judicial Procedure be authorized to appear before the Federal Senate Committee which meets in October to consider H. R. 15,578 and to suggest such amendments and objections to said bill as will conform to the sentiments of the Association."
On vote taken, the resolution was adopted.
I find that the report of the Committee on Reorganization, makes a recommendation that the Association revert to the old custom and practice of allowing four entire days to the annual meeting instead of three; and I move that the Excutive Committee be requested to take into consideration the advisability of extending the sessions from three days to four days.
On vote taken, the motion was adopted.
The Special Committee on Noteworthy Changes in Statute Law.
Thomas I. Parkinson, of New York:
I submit the report of the committee. It makes no recommendations, but we believe it important that the committee be continued.
(See Report in Appendix, page 620.)