Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ultra Vires and Quo Warranto

The inspiration for this post is a long series of mounting congressional laws that are making it increasingly difficult to live under said laws. Now, being a problem solver by nature, I wanted to know by what authority was congress allowed to make such laws, and was it within their scope of the law? And in so questioning, I stumbled upon two different yet essentially identical phrases: Ultra Vires and Quo Warranto.

Ulta Vires

By definition: Ultra vires is a Latin phrase that literally means "beyond the powers". It is used as a legal term in a number of common law contexts.

Interesting. Beyond the powers... And as I understand it, if it's beyond their powers, then all subsequent laws based upon that one ultra vires falls under the same term respectively. Kinda like dominoes falling...

Quo Warranto

By definition: Quo warranto (Medieval Latin for "by what warrant?") is one of the prerogative writs, that requires the person to whom it is directed to show what authority he has for exercising some right or power (or "franchise") he claims to hold.

In essence, questioning the authority of said person to prove their authority/power. If they don't have the authority/power to create a law or uphold it, then the result of "non-compliance" is null and void.

So, here we have two terms that question the authority of an entity or person.

If on one hand, they have the power and authority, but act outside the scope of their boundaries, then that law or result is void. If they don't have the power or authority, then it's a moot point anyways.

So the question remains, do they have the authority? And if so, did they act within their bounds?

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