resolution


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Resolution

The official expression of the opinion or will of a legislative body.

The practice of submitting and voting on resolutions is a typical part of business in Congress, state legislatures, and other public assemblies. These bodies use resolutions for two purposes. First, resolutions express their consensus on matters of public policy: lawmakers routinely deliver criticism or support on a broad range of social issues, legal rights, court opinions, and even decisions by the Executive Branch. Second, they pass resolutions for internal, administrative purposes. Resolutions are not laws; they differ fundamentally in their purpose. However, under certain circumstances resolutions can have the effect of law.

In all legislative bodies, the process leading to a resolution begins with a lawmaker making a formal proposal called a motion. The rules of the legislative body determine how much support must be given to the motion before it can be put to a general vote. The rules also specify what number of votes the resolution must attract to be passed. If successful it becomes the official position of the legislative body.

As a spontaneous expression of opinion, a resolution is intended to be timely and to have a temporary effect. Typically resolutions are used when passage of a law is unnecessary or unfeasible. In many cases relevant laws already exist. The resolution merely asserts an opinion that lawmakers want to emphasize. Thus, for example, state and federal laws already criminalize illicit drugs, but lawmakers have frequently passed resolutions decrying illegal drug use. Political frustration sometimes leads lawmakers to declare their opposition to laws that they cannot change. Additionally, resolutions are common in times of emergency. War commonly brings resolutions in support of the nation's armed forces and the president (who, at other times, can be the subject of critical resolutions).

When resolutions are mere expressions of opinion, they differ fundamentally from laws. In essence, laws are intended to permanently direct and control matters applying to persons or issues in general; moreover, they are enforceable. By contrast, resolutions expressing the views of lawmakers are limited to a specific issue or event. They are neither intended to be permanent nor to be enforceable. Nor do they carry the weight of court opinions. In a certain respect, they resemble the opinions expressed by a newspaper on its editorial page, but they are nonetheless indicative of the ideas and values of elected representatives and, as such, commonly mirror the outlook of voters.

In addition to delivering statements for public consumption, resolutions also play an important role in the administration of legislatures. Lawmakers pass resolutions to control internal rules on matters such as voting and conduct. Typically legislatures also use them to conduct housekeeping: resolutions can thank a member for service to the legislature or criticize him or her for disservice. The latter form of resolution is known as censure, a rarely used formal process by which the legislature as a whole votes on whether to denounce a member for misdeeds.

Either house of a legislature can issue its own resolutions. When both houses adopt the same motion, it is called a joint resolution. Besides carrying the greater force of unanimity, the joint resolution also has a specific legal value in state and federal government. When such a resolution has been approved by the president or a chief executive—or passed with the president's approval—it has the effect of law. In some states a joint resolution is treated as a bill. It can become a law if it is properly passed and signed by the chief executive officer. In Congress a related form of action is the concurrent resolution: it is passed in the form of a resolution of one house with the other house in agreement. Unlike a joint resolution, a concurrent resolution does not require the approval of the president.

Cross-references

Congress of the United States; Legislation.

resolution

n. a determination of policy of a corporation by the vote of its board of directors. Legislative bodies also pass resolutions, but they are often statements of policy, belief or appreciation, and not always enactment of statutes or ordinances.

resolution

(Decision), noun application, constancy, decretum, determination, earnestness, firmness, intention, obduracy, obstinacy, perseverance, purpose, resoluteness, resolve, scitum, sententia, spunk, staying power, steadfastness, steadiness, tenacity, will, will power, zealotry

resolution

(Formal statement), noun declaration, deliverance, formal expression, plan, presentation, proposal, proposition, statement, written announcement
See also: act, adhesion, adjudication, animus, answer, arbitration, award, bill, choice, conclusion, consequence, decision, declaration, decree, denouement, desire, determination, diligence, disposition, enactment, finding, forethought, goal, holding, intent, intention, judgment, key, loyalty, opinion, outcome, perseverance, project, proposition, purpose, result, ruling, solution, spirit, suggestion, tenacity, volition, will

resolution

1 an important motion of an assembly or corporation or other body.
2 the name adopted by the (English) Solicitors' Family Law Association.

RESOLUTION. A solemn judgment or decision of a court. This word is frequently used in this sense, in Coke and some of the more ancient reporters. It also signifies an agreement to a law or other thing adopted by a legislature or popular assembly. Vide Dict. de Jurisp. h.t.

RESOLUTION, Civil law. The act by which a contract which existed and was good, is rendered null.
     2. Resolution differs essentially from rescission. The former presupposes the contract to have been valid, and it is owing to a cause posterior to the agreement that the resolution takes place; while rescission, on the contrary, supposes that some vice or defect annulled the contract from the beginning. Resolution may be by consent of the parties or by the decision of a competent tribunal; rescission must always be by the judgment of a court. 7 Troplong, de la Vente, n. 689; 7 Toull. 551; Dall. Dict. h.t.

References in classic literature ?
Elinor would not attempt to disturb a solitude so reasonable as what she now sought; and with a mind anxiously pre-arranging its result, and a resolution of reviving the subject again, should Marianne fail to do it, she turned into the parlour to fulfill her parting injunction.
Thy resolution may fluctuate on the wild and changeful billows of human opinion, but mine is anchored on the Rock of Ages.
But hurried on by the precipitancy of youth, and having his imperial majesty's license to pay my attendance upon the emperor of Blefuscu, I took this opportunity, before the three days were elapsed, to send a letter to my friend the secretary, signifying my resolution of setting out that morning for Blefuscu, pursuant to the leave I had got; and, without waiting for an answer, I went to that side of the island where our fleet lay.
outside in the street proclaiming the Resolution of the Council.
exclaimed Albert, so overcome he could scarcely speak; "it is not the same with you and me -- you cannot have made the same resolution I have, for I have come to warn you that I bid adieu to your house, and -- and to you.
He then told her of Georgiana's delight in her acquaintance, and of her disappointment at its sudden interruption; which naturally leading to the cause of that interruption, she soon learnt that his resolution of following her from Derbyshire in quest of her sister had been formed before he quitted the inn, and that his gravity and thoughtfulness there had arisen from no other struggles than what such a purpose must comprehend.
The low whistle, which had assisted him in arriving at this resolution, here broke out into his loudest ringing tenor, and the corridor, as he hurried along it, echoed to his favourite song from the Beggar's Opera, "When the heart of a man is oppressed with care.
His resolution of leaving Churchhill is consistent with his general eagerness.
We averaged four mass-meetings a week for the voyage--we seemed always in labor in this way, and yet so often fallaciously that whenever at long intervals we were safely delivered of a resolution, it was cause for public rejoicing, and we hoisted the flag and fired a salute.
The secretary was told to write down the resolution of the Moscow nobility and gentry, that they would furnish ten men, fully equipped, out of every thousand serfs, as the Smolensk gentry had done.
I am resisting your influence over me at this moment, with the strongest of all resolutions--the resolution of despair.
How could she-- how could any woman--resist the influence of his steady mind, his firmness of purpose, his manly resolution to owe everything to himself and nothing to his rank, set off as these attractive qualities were by the outward and personal advantages which exercise an ascendancy of their own?