Today in statutory interpretation

I was looking today to see if I could delete a paragraph defining “District” as “the District of Columbia.” Somewhere, though I can never find it when I want to, there is a section of the D.C. Code that defines a bunch of terms and says they are supposed to apply throughout the Code. I wanted to see if “District” was among those terms. Since 1. my research skills are unbelievably inefficient for someone going to library school, and 2. I can never find that section of the Code that I was looking for, I decided to do a search for “District means.” 164 results (though some of these are phrases that end with the word “district,” like “historic district”). Of course.

It turns out, though, that District doesn’t always mean “the District of Columbia.” So the rhetorical question is this: is there a difference between all the different things it means? Those are:

  • the District of Columbia
  • the District of Columbia government
  • the government of the District of Columbia
  • the District of Columbia government, its agents, or its designees
  • within the geographical boundaries of the District of Columbia

For the record, the section of the Code that I was looking for was 1-301.47.

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