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August 11, 2010

ACRONYM Act (A Crazy Really On-point Nice Yearning Message Act)

President Obama signed into law this week the “SPEECH Act.” That is the short form title for the ‘‘Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act.”

The Act itself garnered unanimous approval in both the House and the Senate--which I presume to be relatively rare. The Act has obvious merit because it prevents the enforcement of a foreign defamation award if the defamation claim would not have passed First Amendment scrutiny were it to be adjudicated here. 


One bit of the act that might be slightly controversial is its extension of the CDA section 230 immunity to protect against foreign attempts to enforce defamation actions against Internet service providers. Section 230 has drawn criticism even in the United States for its preferential treatment of Internet publishers.

But I want to comment on a much lighter aspect of the statute.

The “Speech Act” is much nicer than an awkward set of consonants and vowels that might be generated without any concern for the acronym, even if the double-e in “speech” necessitates the mild infelicity of the slightly repetitive formulation “Enduring and Established.” (Maybe “Enduring and Enlightened” might have been preferable, though some might suggest that that would cast aspersions on other states without our free speech heritage, including our closest allies.)

In recent years, we have seen the “PATRIOT Act” and “E-Sign,” both acronym statutes. I'm sure there are legions of others, though to my ears this seems like a relatively recent development.

Do you have any statute that you would like to see enacted not principally because of its merit because of the nice acronym it would generate? I'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments.