Emory Law Journal


Michael Doran


This Article presents the first comprehensive analysis of the closed rule in the legal literature. After situating the closed rule within its institutional and theoretical context, this Article examines the use of the closed rule by the Republican majority in the 109th Congress and the Democratic majority in the 110th Congress. The Article then undertakes both a positive and normative analysis. The positive analysis generalizes three prominent accounts of the closed rule from political theory and argues that the closed rule can more accurately be understood as a broadly managerial instrument for maintaining order on the House floor. The normative analysis identifies and discusses several undesirable effects of the closed rule—its tendency to increase legislative fragmentation and redundancy, its facilitation of third-party capture, and its weakening of bipartisan cooperation and compromise.