Why Lawmakers Shouldn’t Trust the Uniform Law Commission or American Law Institute—Two of America’s Biggest Threats to Freedom

Justin Haskins Heartland Institute
Published June 13, 2024

Among other activities, the American Law Institute and ULC impact society and public policy by drafting and proposing uniform legislation for adoption in all 50 states.

Every state has numerous laws that were first developed by the ALI and ULC, the most notable of which is the Uniform Commercial Code, a far-reaching law that affects commercial activity across the United States. Although the Uniform Law Commission is well known among state legislators and many lawyers, the American Law Institute is just as important, especially when it comes to the Uniform Commercial Code.

The ALI and ULC work together as partners to develop periodic changes to the UCC, a relationship that first developed more than 80 years ago. As the ULC notes on its website, “In 1942, the ULC and the American Law Institute joined in a partnership that put all the component commercial laws together in a comprehensive Uniform Commercial Code that was offered to the states for their consideration in 1951.”

Further, in a section of the Uniform Law Commission’s website titled “The UCC Today,” the ULC wrote, “The UCC is maintained under the guidance of the Permanent Editorial Board for the Uniform Commercial Code (PEB), comprised of members appointed by the ULC and the ALI.”

Most lawmakers think of the Uniform Commercial Code as a non-controversial, highly effective piece of legislation drafted by nonpartisan lawyers interested in streamlining commercial activity. Although the UCC might have been beneficial in making nationwide commercial activity more efficient decades ago, it certainly is not the case any longer.

The modern UCC is heavily influenced by a highly partisan, radical group of activist lawyers and law professors. That does not mean every part of the UCC is rotten to the core, but state lawmakers should tread carefully before choosing to enact legislative changes recommended by the ALI or ULC.

Additionally, state legislators should also spend significant time reviewing existing laws that have been put into place in recent decades at the recommendation of these groups or their allies.

To read the rest of this Policy Brief, click here.