House votes to strike 'lunatic' from US law

"But as science and medicine have progressed, society has come to understand mental illness with more clarity."

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The bill, S. 2367, was introduced by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and easily approved by the Senate back in May in a unanimous consent vote. Conrad and other Senate supporters said U.S. law should reflect a "21st century understanding of mental illness and disease."

The word "lunatic" appears in sections of U.S. law related to the receivership of estates, and in a section that defines "lunatic" as "every idiot, lunatic, insane person, and person non compos mentis," or not of sound mind.

House passage sends the bill to the White House for President Obama's signature.

The House approved a few other suspension bills Wednesday morning, including H.R. 6602, which makes technical corrections to U.S. law dealing with national observances. Members approved that bill in a 392-0 vote.

Several other bills were approved by voice vote:

• H.R. 6620, ensuring Secret Service protection for the life of former U.S. presidents and their spouses;

• H.R. 6605, eliminating an unnecessary reporting requirement for an unfunded DNA Identification grant program;

• H.R. 6223, amending U.S. law to clarify that a period of employment abroad by certain U.S. officials in Iraq or Afghanistan will be counted as a period of residence in the United States for purposes of qualifying for naturalization,

• H.R. 6634, to change the effective date of Internet publications of certain financial disclosure forms (this bill was just introduced and no text was available as of Wednesday), and

• S. 3486, the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act, implementing the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs, and the Patent Law Treaty.

— This story was updated at 12:18 p.m.