Thought Experiment: Would Congressional Short Bill Titles Survive FTC Scrutiny?

Brian Christopher Jones, Randal M. Shaheen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Many of those close to the Congressional legislative process seem to view the short titles of bills as “branding” rather than official legal instruments. In fact, this may be one of the reasons that some short titles for bills and laws have become tendentious and overly aspirational. This is problematic for such titles, as they are formally recognized by their inscription into federal law, and thus transcend their “branding” purposes, thereby putting the legal status of short titles in an awkward juxtaposition. By stripping away all of the current legal barriers that would technically negate such a prospect, this Article considers whether contemporary short bills titles would pass the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) deceptive practice scrutiny. Relying on three main pieces of evidence (the FTC Policy Statement on Deception, the FTC Enforcement Policy Statement on Food Advertising, and the landmark Kraft, Inc. v. FTC decision), this Article demonstrates that many congressional short titles do employ deceptive advertising practices and would be actionable under FTC standards.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-82
Number of pages26
JournalSeton Hall Legislative Journal
Volume37
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • Short titles
  • Bills
  • Acts
  • Drafting
  • Legislation
  • Federal Trade Commission
  • Deceptive advertising
  • Deceptive practices
  • Drafting standards

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