Fri, 12 Jun 2020
This article isn't going to be fun to write but I'm going to push through it because I think it's genuinely important. How often have you heard me say that?
A couple of weeks ago the Insurrection Act of 1807 was in the news. I noticed that the Wikipedia article about it contained this very strange-seeming claim:
“What the heck is a ‘secret amendment’?” I asked myself. “Secret from whom? Sounds like Wikipedia crackpottery.” But there was a citation, so I could look to see what it said.
The citation is Hoffmeister, Thaddeus (2010). "An Insurrection Act for the Twenty-First Century". Stetson Law Review. 39: 898.
Sometimes Wikipedia claims will be accompanied by an authoritative-seeming citation — often lacking a page number, as this one did at the time — that doesn't actually support the claim. So I checked. But Hoffmeister did indeed make that disturbing claim:
I had sometimes wondered if large, complex acts such as HIPAA or the omnibus budget acts sometimes contained provisions that were smuggled into law without anyone noticing. I hoped that someone somewhere was paying attention, so that it couldn't happen.
But apparently the answer is that it does.