Just as reviewing the legislative history of a statute can aid in statutory interpretation, reviewing the legislative history of a court rule can help you interpret the rule.
To help you understand the documents you will find in researching a court rule's legislative history, this section first describes how court rules are made, then explains how to find the documents produced in the process.
The statutory authority for making federal court rules is the Rules Enabling Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2071-2077.
The Supreme Court derives the authority to create federal court rules of general applicability from 28 U.S.C. §§ 2072 & 2075, and exercises this authority in cooperation with the Judicial Conference of the United States. The Judicial Conference is statutorily required to, carry on a continuous study of the operation and effect of the general rules of practice and procedure. 28 U.S.C. § 331. As part of this continuing study, the Conference may recommend amendments and additions to the rules to promote simplicity in procedure, fairness in administration, the just determination of litigation, and the elimination of unjustifiable expense and delay.
The Standing Committee and Advisory Committees
The Judicial Conference has a Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, commonly referred to as just "the Standing Committee," coordinates the Conference's rulemaking activities. There are also five advisory committees on the appellate, bankruptcy, civil, criminal, and evidence rules that make recommendations for rule changes to the Standing Committee. According to the U.S. Courts website,the Standing Committee and the advisory committees are composed of federal judges, practicing lawyers, law professors, state chief justices, and representatives of the Department of Justice. Each committee has a reporter, a prominent law professor, who is responsible for coordinating the committee's agenda and drafting appropriate amendments to the rules and explanatory committee notes.
Records of the U.S. Judicial Conference: Committees on Rules of Practice and Procedure (KF8705 .A87 Micro, Cabinet E14): This large compilation of committee documents provides the full text of committee meeting minutes, transcripts, reports, and correspondence from 1935 through 1996. It is accompanied by a set of detailed print indexes that allow the user to find documents by committee, rule topic, or testifying/commenting individual or organization.
Drafting History of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (KF9606.515 .A15 1991, also online): For researchers interested in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, this publication provides a reprint of the four-volume Comments, Recommendations, and Suggestions Concerning the Proposed Rules of Criminal Procedure that was used by committee members. It also contains preliminary drafts, Supreme Court memoranda, and the final committee report.