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California State Assembly Chamber. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Why Do California Statutes Use the Term ‘Abrogate?’

In some instances, the term is used as part of a legislative finding and declaration

By Chris Micheli, March 14, 2022 6:52 am

The word “abrogate” generally means to repeal or do away with something. California statutes use this term generally in two ways. The first is the affirmative use of the word – to repeal a law, regulation, or court decision. The second is the negative use of the word – to not repeal a law, regulation or court decision, but rather to retain it.

In some instances, the term is used as part of a legislative finding and declaration. The following are examples when the term is used as part of an expression of legislative intent:

The Legislature finds and declares that public access to information concerning civilian complaints regarding peace officers, including the records of proceedings of civilian law enforcement review agencies, is crucial to safe and effective law enforcement in the state. It is the intent of the Legislature, in enacting this act, to abrogate the decision in Copley Press, Inc. v. Superior Court (2006) 39 Cal.4th 1272, to restore public access to peace officer records, and to restore public access to meetings and hearings that were open to the public prior to the Copley Press decision.

To ensure an equitable opportunity for noncarceral, rehabilitative and diversionary dispositions or custody status to all persons involved in the criminal legal system, irrespective of immigration status, it is the intent of the Legislature to abrogate case law that is inconsistent with this value, including, but not limited to, People v. Sanchez (1987) 190 Cal.App.3d 224; People v. Cisneros (2000) 84 Cal.App.4th 352; People v. Espinoza (2003) 107 Cal.App.4th 1069; People v. Arce (2017) 11 Cal.App.5th 613.

In other instances, the term is used to make clear that the Legislature does not want to repeal or do away with a section of law. The following are examples when the term is used to make clear that the law changes being made are not affected with other, existing laws:

This section does not abrogate existing laws regarding privacy or information sharing. Family justice center staff members shall comply with the laws governing their respective professions.

This subdivision does not diminish or abrogate any rights or remedies otherwise available to the petitioner.

“Abrogate” is an important term that is used in legislation and in statutes and its use should be understood when used in either instance.

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