If you've ever wondered how laws and regulations are created down in Washington -- and then how those same laws are interpreted, demolished, castrated by the opposing parties, this lengthy read by Haley Sweetland Edwards in the Washington Monthly should have you crying in no time:
[...] even with the strength of the law behind him, Chilton waited until the end of the meeting to broach what he knew would be a tense subject. He began diplomatically. Now that the CFTC was required by law to establish position limits, his commission wanted to do so in a fashion that made sense one that was sensitive to, but not necessarily reflective of, the views of the exchange, he told the executives.
Chiltons gracious overture fell flat. His hosts, who had been openly discussing other topics moments before, were suddenly silent. They deferred instead to their top lawyer, who explained that the exchanges interpretation of Section 737 was that the CFTC was not required to establish position limits at all.
Chilton was blindsided. While other parts of Dodd-Frank were, admittedly, vague and ambiguous and otherwise frustrating to those, like him, who were tasked with writing the hundreds of rules associated with the act, Section 737 didnt exactly pull any punches. The Commission shall establish limits on the amount of positions, as appropriate.
You gotta be kidding, Chilton told the executives. The law is very clear here. The congressional intent is clear.
But the executives stood their ground. Their lawyer quietly referred Chilton to the end of the sentence in question: as appropriate. Those two little words, the lawyer said, clearly modify the verb shall. Therefore, the statute can be interpreted as saying that the commission shall but only if appropriate establish position limits, he explained.
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