Wikipedia is often a boon for quick legal research about well-publicized matters. It’s a great way to find where a statute is codified, or the background of a famous case. When it comes to legislative history, though, sometimes Wikipedia’s a bust. For anyone looking for a good example of why one must follow up with proper research into legislative history, please see Wikipedia’s entry on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which passed in July 2010. As of Nov. 16, 2010, Wikipedia has the following to say about the changes implemented by Title XI of Dodd-Frank:
“The Federal Reserve Act is amended to change the New York Federal Reserve President to a Presidential appointment, with the advice and consent of the Senate.”
In support of this assertion, Wikipedia cites and links to the Enrolled Final Version of HR 4173, available on the LOC’s Thomas page. Unfortunately, Wikipedia gets it wrong: The version of the bill that passed Congress removed that language (which had been proposed by the Senate but rejected by the House). The Senate’s proposal in this regard was snipped on June 17, 2010, weeks before the final bill passed. Legislative history research–including review of committee meeting transcripts–coupled with news and secondary source coverage bore out the truth.
We always offer cautions when it comes to Wikipedia, and now there’s a handy example to which we can refer.
UPDATE: Thanks to our helpful reader, Wikipedia has been policed. . .while its lesson remains!