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The language of the law. Part Latin, part Greek, part law French, even part Anglo-Saxon. And all confusing.

SCGS Jamboree, and its 50th anniversary.

The Genealogy Show UK, the first of what we can all hope will be many.

And about a kazillion deadlines for handouts, PowerPoints and syllabus materials and…

Hoo boy the next two weeks are going to be full for The Legal Genealogist.

Which means, of course, that time will be in short supply for the blog.


But you won’t mind too much, I hope, because it gives us all an excuse to take a look as time allows at the language of the law with more alphabet soup.

We’re up to the letter L for 2019, so today’s word is log-rolling.


Now… tell the truth … that picture is exactly what you thought of when you saw that word, isn’t it? The “act of rolling logs, as when a group of neighbors help to clear off land by rolling logs into some spot for burning.”1 At least if you’re from timber country.

Or maybe the “sport in which contestants treading logs try to dislodge one another.”2 Which is gaining traction around the country far beyond timber country for some reason.3

But of course that’s not at all what is means in the law.


What the law dictionary tells is is that log-rolling is a “mischievous legislative practice, of embracing in one bill several distinct matters, none of which, perhaps, could singly obtain the assent of the legislature, and then procuring its passage by a combination of the minorities in favor of each of the measures into a majority that will adopt them all.”4

Or, to put it more simply, it’s “the practice of including in a legislative bill unrelated provisions to attract a wider base of support and insure passage of the bill as a whole.”5

A work task. A sport. And legislative mischief.

You gotta love the language of the law.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “2019 alphabet soup: L is for…,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 28 May 2019).


Image: Roy Emerson Stryker, “Rolling logs into river, near Littlefork, Minnesota” (1937), Library of Congress Prints & Photographs

  1. ( : accessed 28 May 2019), “logrolling.”
  2. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary ( : accessed 28 May 2019), “logrolling.”
  3. See “Log Rolling History,” Key Log Rolling ( : accessed 28 May 2019).
  4. Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 732, “log-rolling.”
  5. FindLaw Legal Dictionary ( : accessed 28 May 2019), “logrolling.”
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