In the process of researching the legality of coil guns in Massachusetts (University engineering project), I stumbled across Cornell's Legal Information Institute, which offers what appears to be a complete rendition of the entire United States Code, and decided to do a little exploring.
While I learned a lot of interesting tidbits of information perusing the U.S.C., I was amazed at how poorly it was structured. I know politics is sticky business, and not everything is going to be clean, but what I saw struck me as exceptionally bad.
In software design, there's a widely used phrase to describe certain particularly jumbled programs: spaghetti code. This term can be applied to programs which have poor data structure designs, are poorly organized, or simply just don't make logical sense in terms of the way they are laid out. The name comes from how these attributes can be applied to a bowl of spaghetti; it's jumbled and tangled together, and you would be required to really dig deep to find, say, the two ends of a single strand.
As someone who is very active in open-source programming, a development style that fundamentally breeds spaghetti code, my first reaction upon seeing the U.S.C. in its entirety was, "Oh my god, this is spaghetti code." The organization is so horribly jumbled.
For example, in regards to the Titles, why would topics that sound so incredibly broad, such as Title 6 - Domestic Security, and Title 12 - Banks and Banking, be in the same structural level as Title 23 - Highways, or Title 24 - Hospitals and Asylums?
Why do we have Title 14 - Coast Guard and Title 32 - National Guard when there is Title 10 - Armed Forces? The Coast Guard and the National Guard are clearly both a subset of the Armed Forces.
Why is a "machine gun" defined under Title 26 - Internal Revenue Code, when every single other type of firearm seems to be defined under Title 18 - Crimes and Criminal Procedure? It's not as if Title 26 is redefining a machine gun for the purpose of tax law; Title 18 actually states something along the lines of "Machine gun, as defined in Title 26 / Section etc etc".
I could go on and on about the various inconsistencies that I see in regards to how the U.S.C. is structured. Maybe I see it as more of a problem due to my involvement in software development, a field in which structure is paramount to success, but this just doesn't sit right with me. That leads me to my questions (finally):
1. Are there any underlying reasons behind the nonsensical structure of U.S.C. titles? Is it simply a case of "This is how it's been for awhile, don't fix what isn't broken." or is there more to it than that?
2. Pretend that over the next few election cycles, a super majority of software engineers and computer scientists are elected to the House and Senate. These people take structure very seriously, and they are very unhappy with the structure of the U.S.C. Barring the even more ridiculous case of Congress repealing everything and passing the exact same laws again, just under different Titles/Chapters/etc, would it be possible for Congress to arbitrarily merge, combine, and delete Titles, and to rearrange the location of laws, definitions, etc? Are there laws/regulations governing this?