an earlier act of Congress

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Senior Member
Source: VOA Learning English-U.S. HISTORY-The Rise of the US Supreme Court

The case related to a man named William Marbury. He had been offered a government job at the last minute by an outgoing president. The new president and his secretary of state, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, did not want to give Marbury the position for political reasons. But Marbury believed an earlier act of Congress required the president to appoint him.

Can I use "action" here? If yes, what is the difference?
  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    "Act" means "law," not "action." In the U.S. (this example) an act of Congress is a law passed by Congress, in the U.K., an act of Parliament is a law passed by Parliament, and so on. This is definition 3 of "act" in the WRF dictionary linked at the top of this page.
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