Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Terms of art

In order to help us understand the laws we are reading, we have to understand how they were created. To do that we need to study. Here is a link to a book to help get you started.


Statutes and statutory construction(Sutherland 1904).

Now for better understanding we want to go with older books, I have found that the newer the books, the more disinfo inside.

Studying the origins of words help us to understand what they really mean as well. This  http://www.etymonline.com/  is a helpful resource for that.

What exactly ARE terms of art you ask?

In every profession certain terms take on their own definition, apart from that which the majority of society thinks the word might mean. Hence the fact that we have law dictionaries that contain a lot of the same words as Webster's.

Term of Art

A word or phrase that has special meaning in a particular context.

A term of art is a word or phrase that has a particular meaning. Terms of art abound in the law. For example, the phrase double jeopardy can be used in common parlance to describe any situation that poses two risks. In the law, Double Jeopardy refers specifically to an impermissible second trial of a defendant for the same offense that gave rise to the first trial.

Now for the definition of the word "TERM"

The reason for this definition is to help you understand how they define words that mean something different then what you think.

Irs section 7701 is the definitions page, notice that they do not define "words", they define "terms".


An expression, word, or phrase that has a fixed and known meaning in a particular art, science, or profession. A specified period of time.

Now to understand it even better, we must look to the rules of statutory construction to see what is happening.

here is two links for you to go over to help you understand how it all works...



Now looking at irs definitions page 7701.


The first thing you should notice is that they are defining TERMS and not WORDS.

(9) United States
The term “United States” when used in a geographical sense includes only the States and the District of Columbia.

Ok so you say this seems pretty plain, the states and dc. But what is a state?

(10) State
The term “State” shall be construed to include the District of Columbia, where such construction is necessary to carry out provisions of this title.

So by this definition, the term states mean dc only.

How so you say?

First it is the TERM state and not the WORD state.
Second, while the word include is a word of expansion, rules of statutory interpretation limit that expansion to words of the same class as those written.

So when we look in federal law and see that the "state" includes dc, territories,etc then that is what the word can only mean. so state means a federal territory.

Congress changed the word state in 1864, Thomas Clark's " purging America of the matrix" has a more through run down on that.


We are also given clues to this when we look thru history, for example the 1868 North Carolina inauguration speech....

In the midst of the progress of these events we are astounded by a proposition,
originated by North Carolinians, and brought before Congress under auspices calculated
to alarm us, that North Carolina, one of the original thirteen, is no longer a State, but a
territory of the United States.


Words mean everything in law, who can forget Clinton's "depends on what "is" means"?

Study hard folks.