United States law provided by the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, applied to all the residents? The Constitution is the supreme law of the United States, in addition to federal laws that include regulations issued by administrative agencies. We will learn what law is and how it works in the United States.
Laws are rules of conduct that maintain justice and stability in any community. Law provides a path for society to resolve disputes and maintain a peaceful and well-functioning society. The Constitution sets out the boundaries of federal laws, including Acts of Congress, treaties by the Senate, regulation by the executive branch, and Federal judiciary decisions, so it is considered the ultimate source of law.
In the structure of the federal government, legislative, executive, and judicial branches are there. Further articles describe the relationship between the federal government and states, even the relationship among the states. At the same time, Article V provides the process for amending the Constitution.
Moreover, Article VI establishes the supremacy of federal laws and addresses issues like the national debt, and Article VII provides the process for ratifying the Constitution. Numerous amendments to the Constitution are famous as articles, especially the Bill of Rights. So as the first ten amendments to the Constitution protect individual liberties.
Table of Contents
What is the whole meaning of law?
Law is the discipline and profession following any community’s practices, customs, and rules of conduct. Such rules bind the community and their enforcement through controlling authority. Furthermore, the law also covers a description of legal training with a general background.
The U.S Constitution was drafted in 1787 and took effect two years later, containing seven articles and 27 amendments.
Primary sources of law
Primarily, there are four sources of law at the state and federal levels. These sources of law in the United States are Constitution, Federal and state statutes, administrative regulations, and case law.
United States Constitution
Every country has a legal system with its sources of law, but the Constitution is the fundamental source of law. A Constitution is a charter that establishes the government under specific rules. So the United States Constitution is the “supreme law of the land.” All the federal statutes, state statutes, judicial opinions, and administrative laws must work according to the rules of the Constitution.
The U.S. Constitution is internationally recognized for its organization and its subject matter. The Constitution establishes the rules for functioning the government and sets fundamental rights of freedom for the masses.
The first ten amendments of the Constitution make up the “Bill of Rights” to protect the freedom of individuals. Even the first amendment prohibits Congress from making laws that compromise freedom of speech. Moreover, the second amendment is about the right to keep arms, and the fourth amendment is about securing the person’s right against unreasonable searches.
To sum up, the Constitution also discusses the power and responsibility of the government and guidance about the organization. In Constitution, the first three articles describe the structure of the federal government as Article one establishes the system and powers of the Congress. Article two relates to the executive branch of government and the roles of President and Vice-President. Whereas Article three deals with the judicial power of the federal courts.
Federal and state statutes
Federal and state legislation or statutory law is the second most important law in the United States legal system. Congress enacts federal statutes that apply in all 50 states. For instance, the Clean Air Act is a federation law regulating air emissions from stationary and mobile pollution sources in every state across the country.
Federal statutes are passed during a legislative session and then published in the United States Codes. The Codes they break down into titles; each deals with a different subject matter, like Title 18 deals with federal crimes and Title 26 covers taxes.
State statutes come under the state legislature and apply within the state. The United State Constitution’s Supremacy clause makes the Constitution and federal laws “the Supreme Law of the Land.”
Here Administrative regulations are rules issued by the state or federal administrative agencies such as Internal Revenue Service and Environmental Protection Agency. Administrative regulations provide the ways to apply and enforce the law. Federal agencies receive authority from Congress with the definition and scope of authority.
Administrative regulations are published and updated annually in three following places:
- The Code of Federal Regulations
- The List of Sections Affected
- The Federal Register
Administrative regulations usually develop through two informal and formal types of rulemaking.
- The public submits written comments for informal rulemaking, and the agency creates the final rule accordingly. Therefore, informal rulemaking requires an agency that deals with the proceedings so that the public can comment on them.
- During formal rulemaking, administrative agencies issue regulations after meeting specific requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act. However, formal rulemaking can be time-consuming and expensive as well.
Case law and judicial opinions
Judge-made laws are recognized as case law or sometimes as common law. Legislatures may write broad statutes while judges interpret the meanings of the laws by applying them to actual cases. However, various issues do not involve regulations, so courts can apply traditional definitions and rules.
Once the court takes a decision, it becomes a precedent for subsequent scenarios. However, not every court follows the findings of other courts. Still, they follow the decisions of appellate courts because different courts’ decisions may be persuasive but are not mandatory authority.
The federal court system has trial and appellate courts, where trial courts are district courts. At the same time, appellate courts are called circuit courts for appeal. One can appeal the Circuit court decision to the United States Supreme Court.
Types of law
The term law they used in the United States generically; three significant categories of law come with further subsections.
Case law or Common law
Case law is created by a judicial body, as it comes with the significance of precedents and adherence to settled decisions. It means that lower courts are bound to follow the decisions of higher courts while being in the same jurisdictions. For instance, any federal district court must follow the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ findings and the United States Supreme Court. But they do not need to follow the decisions of other district courts or the same state courts.
Once the precedent has been set, it is difficult to get a different ruling unless the justices are interpreting the same law. Usually, women win the cases in the courts related to employment due to precedents based on the Civil Rights Act that favor women.
State legal materials resemble federal legal materials, but there are differences in types of publications and availability. However, the nature of legal materials and publishing practices differ in various ways, and there is a difference in the types of publications in which these materials are readily available.
However, the legal materials’ nature and publishing practices may differ depending on jurisdictions. One must keep in mind that resources on the federal level are easier to obtain as both private and government publishers publish materials. Every state follows its publishing practices despite publications being readily available in government depository collection.
Differences are pretty significant in the publication of court decisions. Many decisions regarding women’s issues are published in reports which vary in type. But one must keep in mind that all judicial opinions are not published as they are not established as legal precedent.
Moreover, some civil suits settle out of court without official proceedings publications. Imprecise terminology and inconsistent publishing practices will be a hindrance to the way of a particular piece of state legislation and irresponsible publishing practices.
The Court systems will vary depending on the federal or state. Generally, all court systems have two significant levels:
- A trial court (District Court)
- Court of last resort (Supreme Court)
However, there is an immediate appeals court as well which is known as the “Court of Appeals.” The court system has various special courts that have limited jurisdictions, as the federal system has three levels of courts:
- District courts
- Courts of appeal
- Supreme court
The district of Columbia has only two courts:
- The superior court
- Court of appeals
A suit is started in a trial court, but if someone does not accept the judge and jury’s decision, they can file their case in the immediate court of appeals to reverse or affirm the trial court decision.
Decisions by judicial bodies are published in reports, which vary in type but remember that all judicial opinions are not published. There are reports for all levels of federal courts, and all of the opinions of the state courts are published as a last resort; state immediate appellate court decisions are also published.
However, state trial court opinions are rarely reported, and such decisions are selectively published. State court decisions and trial transcripts are obtained through the court clerk in specific jurisdictions where the trial is held. One can use Court records to get background information on particular court opinions.
Finding court decisions
Court reporters are arranged chronologically, and digest systems are used to find court decisions by major legal publishing firms that having own digest systems. West Publishing Company created the most widely used American Digest System.
The statutory law is usually found in two types of publications:
- Compilations of statutes
- Codified laws
The compilations and the codes have the exact wording, but the formats vary. The federal law gives the number of the U.S Congress that passed it, and there is another number that represents the chronological order of its passage. After passage, a law is codified or published according to the subject category though all laws cannot codify.
If anyone is looking for statutory law on a general subject, code is an essential thing. A code includes the codified rules published with amendments to the original law currently in force. Whereas the public laws are separate entities, the actual law and modifications will remain independent, and there is no general index.
To find any specific law, one must understand either the Congress passed the law or the year it was enacted, as indexes are published at the end of Congress session.
Legislative history materials
To understand the law’s passage, one must consult legislative history materials, primarily committee reports, hearings, and debates. Committee reports and hearings are published as separate entities or as compilations for United States Congressional Record.
Most states do not publish legislative materials, but the state legislative branch has a legislative reference bureau or library.
Administrative agencies serve two primary functions:
- Adjudications (enforcement)
The rules and regulations of administrative agencies and executive documents are usually published in a register and compiled in a code.
For instance, federal materials are published in the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations. Decisions made by an agency’s adjudicatory body are published as well. However, if the findings are not published, one can contact the agency to receive them.
To find a rule or regulation in a register, one should know the date of final law or the year of enactment. The general index provides code, whereas most records have no general index covering all regulations.
There are numerous print resources as well, such as
- The American Digest, Century Edition
- Code of Federal Regulations of the United States of America
- The Congressional Globe
- Congressional Record (Daily ed.)
- Congressional Record (Permanent ed.)
- The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (Annals of Congress)
- Decennial Edition of the American Digest
- Federal Register
- Decennial Digest, American Digest System
- Landmark Briefs and Arguments of the Supreme Court of the United States
- Register of Debates in Congress
- the United States Code
A simple definition of law
Law is a rule of conduct developed by the government or society in a certain area. In comparison, the law follows particular practices to cope with crime, business, property, social relations, finance, and various aspects of life.
Typically, the law is controlled and enforced by the controlling authority. We can explore various definitions to find what law is in simple words.
According to natural school thoughts, a court of justice is responsible for all the laws. One must understand any particular law, and any individual must be aware of the purpose. Moreover, it also comprehends the true nature of law via courts.
According to Jane Austin, the law is an aggregate set of rules by a politically superior man or political subject. The law is the set of rules that everyone must follow without considering their stature.
According to the Pure theory of law or a normative science, the law does not describe what occurs; it defines specific rules to abide by.
Under the definition of law, there are the following theories:
- The law is all about unconscious and organic growth.
- Like language, the nature of law is not universal and varies with people and age.
- Customs are superior to legislation, and laws conform to the popular consciousness because of customs.
- Typically, the law has its source in the ordinary consciousness.
- The lawyer or any jurist is an essential legislator as legislation is the last stage of lawmaking.
“Law is exclusively and essentially a social fact.” However, the law is the form of guarantee of social conditions of society that is assured by the state’s power of constraint.
Sociological law has three essential parts:
- The law is the means of social control.
- Law is to serve the purpose of society.
- Due to its nature, the rule is coercive.
Furthermore, it is also considered that law is predominantly a social engineering tool. Conflicts pull from political philosophy, economic interests, and various ethical values.
The realist law defines law in terms of judicial process as the law is a statement of circumstances that public force brought through courts. In addition, a rule of conduct established to justify a prediction with reasonable certainty that will be enforced by the courts and its authority is challenged.
Human behavior in society is controlled with the help of law, as it aids in the cooperation between the community members. Nonetheless, the law helps to avoid any significant conflict of interest, and if there is any conflict, the law resolves it.
What is the purpose of the law?
Law is the body of rules of conduct prescribed by the controlling authority with legal binding force. All the citizens must follow the law, and disobeying will result in legal consequences of the law.
However, the laws and the legal system are not for the average citizen. But people should understand the basics of law. Through the law, the information is passed on to the citizens in numerous ways. The purpose of the law is reflected in many branches of law. It includes agreements for exchange services and everything from purchasing a ticket to the trading options.
Property laws define the rights of people towards the property, including real estate with their possessions. In addition, the intangible property has stock shares and bank accounts. Several offenses against the state, federal, and local communities appeared as a subject of criminal law.
Law provides the authority to the government to punish the offender. The law serves many purposes, and the main of them are maintaining order, establishing standards, protecting liberties, and resolving disputes.
The law of maintaining order is considered to establish the standards, whereas some are necessary for a civilized society. Therefore, when the law is enforced, it provides consistency with society’s regulations. For instance, wildlife management laws protect further generations for years.
The law about establishing standards is a guideline for the less accepted behavior in society. Certain activities are crimes for the community, and they do not tolerate certain behaviors that can damage any person or their property. Like it is a crime to injure a person without any sort of justification.
Disputes are common in society, and one must compromise with people over different needs, wants, and values. Such laws to resolve disputes are a formal means to solve the conflicts under the court system.
Protection of liberties and rights
Several constitutions and statutes provide various rights and liberties in their states. One function of law is to protect different rights and liberties from unreasonable intrusions by some organizations, persons, or governments.
Functions of law
Any society can not function without understanding the importance of law. However, the legal system can not cover every situation as individuals and circumstances vary in various cases. Especially the United States has a wide variety of laws, including the legislature, administrative agency, and traditional and standard rules.
In addition, there is a court system that helps in applying laws in different situations and guides well how one should interpret laws. Rules are essential to protect the people in their day-to-day lives.
Law fulfills various vital functions, some of which are most important.
- Most importantly, the law protects individuals’ rights and liberties. The United States added the bill of rights to the U.S. constitution to ensure protection. These laws help protect individuals from other individuals, organizations, and the government.
- The first amendment of the bill of rights is about refraining the government from passing any law that interferes individual’s right to free speech, although there are a few exceptions.
- If we get into a simple definition of law, we can see that law provides a set of rules to resolve disputes between individuals. The Law system makes the individuals bring conflicts before an impartial judge or jury. Some of the legal alternatives also work to find alternative dispute resolution. Local to federal level courts also decide to win a dispute.
- Without laws, there would be no set standards for many things, as the law imposes a framework for other kinds of measures other than murder and theft. It would not be easy for individuals and various businesses to transact using banks without the Federal Code of Regulations. Federal regulations come with enforceable rules regarding taxes, commercial transactions, insurance, employment laws, and other essential factors.
- Any society can maintain order while following laws. Without the rule of law, the protection issue will be at risk. There must be a need for federal banking protections; with the organization of statutes, there is order and predictability. A law structure provides a safe environment that will lead to greater productivity and social systems.
What is the purpose of business law?
Business law is essential as it has various aspects of other areas of law. Attorneys must understand this complex subject, including commercial transactions, employment law, business formation law, and insurance law. In addition, business law protects businesses, owners, employees, and clients.
Knowing what law is comprised of various levels of codified and uncodified laws. The nation’s Constitution prescribes the foundation of the United States federal government and civil liberties. The United States has a constitution-based federal government.
The U.S. government is divided into two levels, the federal and state level. While at the national level, there are three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judiciary. In addition, every 50 states have their Constitution, courts, governmental structure, and specific laws.
The federal and state legislatures are the lawmaking bodies of the government. The national legislature at the federal level is called Congress, which consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Members from both bodies can introduce legislation, but both the houses must pass the legislation to make it a law.
Federal and state courts make up the judicial branch of government, and the highest court in the United States is Supreme Court. Each state has an equivalent state supreme court that will represent the ultimate authority for the law.
Federal courts have jurisdictions over federal laws, like state courts have jurisdictions over state laws matters. In the conflict between federal and state laws, federal law will prevail.