Congress: Lunatics Out, Idiots Stay

The House today voted to remove the term “lunatic” from sections of federal law, while the word “idiot” would remain.

The 398-1 vote clears the measure for the president’s signature.

The bill, S. 2367, would amend a section of the U.S. Code that defines the meanings of certain words used in acts of Congress. Making the change would eliminate “references that contribute to the stigmatization of mental health conditions,” according to an April 25 statement by the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota.

“The term ‘lunatic’ holds a place in antiquity and should no longer have a prominent place in our U.S. code,” Bobby Scott, a Virginia Democrat, said today on the House floor.

The targeted language from 1947 now reads: “The words ‘insane’ and ‘insane person’ and ‘lunatic’ shall include every idiot, lunatic, insane person, and person non compos mentis.”


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