It is odd that a question about legislative intent has been removed from Law SE and placed in Workplace SE (Subsequently restored and available here). Initially one user suggested that it be moved to politics.stackexchange.com (see comments in that question), which also would be wrong.

Even if legislative intent might stem from political motivations (which is the case for most of the laws), the question is about an enacted law, and the answer was ascertained from its statutory language as well as from judicial construction thereof. Clearly the OP's question reflects an "[...] interest in law", apropos of the description of Law SE in the migration legend.

The post should be restored to law.stackexchange.com.

2 Answers 2


I agree that legislative intent is in scope on Law.SE. Your answer to that question is an excellent example of why.

However, since the inception of Law.SE I don't think I've seen more than a handful of answers that have helpfully illuminated a question of legislative intent. Meanwhile, we are constantly bombarded with questions of the form, "Why is the law this way?" Consequently, early on we developed a norm that you can see reiterated in the comments of numerous migrations to Politics.SE:

This Stack Exchange addresses what the law is. Why the law is that way is generally a political question more suitable to Politics.SE.


What the law should be is generally a matter of opinion and hence not suited to Stack Exchange.

What happened in this case?

In retrospect, given your excellent answer, I would neither migrate nor close that question.

However, the question as stated does not seem to specify an interest in legislative intent any more than it does political or administrative expedience. The latter two interests (in my mind) justify a migration to either Politics.SE or Workplace.SE respectively.

In this particular case we can only get the question back if a Workplace.SE moderator rejects the migration.

Going Forward

I think it would be great if we have contributors able to continue to provide legislative-intent answers of that caliber. In order to give such questions a fighting chance I just created the tag.

  • Thank you for the kind words. The OP might have been unaware that his answer is about legislative intent (or even that such term exists), as that terminology becomes familiar only after one has read quite a few court opinions. However, the OP's curiosity about legislative intent is palpable from his asking in terms of "justification" for certain statutory language. And yes, creating the legislative-intent tag is a great idea. Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 21:58
  • For what it's worth I agree - the migration has now been rejected, and I've applied the legislative-intent tag to it.
    – jimsug
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 6:16
  • I don't see an answer to the question. The issue then seems to be to what extend should we imaginatively rewrite a person's question. We do that to a fair extent with requests for legal advice.
    – user6726
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 2:01
  • @user6726 "I don't see an answer to the question". Does this link or this one display the answer? I noticed your comment just now. Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 11:45
  • @Iñaki Viggers I note that the question was, after being returned here, closed as off-topic. In light of the above discussiuon I have voted to re-open it. Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 16:29
  • @DavidSiegel Nice. Thank you. Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 17:42

I see "Legislative Intent" as a broad label. The political side of legislative intent covers areas such as "what did politicians say about this law in the democratic debate". Questions that cover this belong on Politics.SE, obviously.

Another side is "what does this law intend to achieve". In some political systems, this is extensively documented with the explicit intent of being used in court. These questions are certainly on-topic.

Hence, the guideline I would recommend is that only covers formal, written sources about the law as it is. Political debate over what could have been (including failed motions) is off-topic. Valid sources where to find legislative intent therefore include any justification submitted along the original proposal, as well as any accepted motion modifying the proposal.

probably makes sense only to democracies. Autocratic rulers ruling on a whim are not objective sources in any case.

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