Lex Caecillia Didia

In my Latin class my teacher gave us Roman laws to research. While researching my law, Lex Caecilia Didia, I started to relate the Roman laws to the present day United States. Luckily studying American Government has made it easier to see the similarities in the two governments. Looking at human history it is easy to see how many societies have created similar technology, cultures, and government. Ancient Rome and the present United States have similar governments; in fact, the founding fathers based part of the United States government on the government of Ancient Rome.  Lex Caecilia Didia was a roman law that relates to the passage of bills and earmarks in the United States government.

Lex Caecilia Didia was an ancient Roman law that was passed by consuls Q. Caecilius Metellus Nepos and Titus Didius in 98 BC. This law had two main provisions: the first requiring a period of trinundium and the second prohibited leges saturae. Trinundium was the amount of time assigned between the introduction of a law and the vote in assembly. The period of trinundium was either 24 days or on the third market day (17 days). The reason for adding this time between the creation of a law and the vote for the law was so that the citizens of Rome would have time to understand the new law and perhaps be persuaded to vote against it. This provision came about because, in 100BC, a radical law was quickly passed without the support of most of the assembly. This law assigned land in the African province to veterans of Marius. Marius’ law was passed quickly with the use of violence and with the help of tribune Saturninus and the praetor Glaucia. Because the public was outraged by the passage of this law, Marius was forced to condemn Saturninus and Glaucia for the use violence and had to repeal the law. As a result of this incident Lex Caecilia was created and passed.  Although the United States does not have a set time period between the creation of a law and voting on that law in Congress, the government is set up in a way so that bills cannot pass quickly. The creation of laws is a long process that starts with the introduction of the bill. After the bill is introduced it must be considered by a committee and a subcommittee. After the committee the bill goes to the floor of the House for a vote and then to the Senate for a vote. If there are changes that need to be made to the bill then it is done by a conference committee and then voted on by the House and the Senate once again. The President then has the decision to sign the bill, veto the bill, or leave the bill unsigned and let it become law (or a pocket veto). The United States does not need trinundium because the government is set-up in a way that keeps law from passing too quickly and without serious consideration.

The other provision, Leges Saturae, forbade stuffed laws, which were provisions in a law that were unrelated to the actual subject of the law.  Earmarks are similar to stuffed laws. Unlike Rome, America does not prohibit earmarks. Earmarks also have to deal with money while the stuffed laws in Rome could also deal with land. Earmarks are problem in the United States and some Representatives, such as Congressman Cooper, refuse to use earmarks.

Although the United States does not have a provision that requires trinundium, the government is set-up so that there is no need for the period of consideration. While the United States does not have a provision that prohibits earmarks, many consider earmarks to be a problem in the United States. Ancient Rome and the present day United States have similar governments. 


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