Understanding the Sources of Law in the US

The American legal system is composed of two main systems of government, federal and state, each with its own set of laws. The main sources of law in the United States are the United States Constitution, state constitutions, federal and state statutes, common law, case law, and administrative law. The Constitution gives the Executive Branch and its member agencies the power to enforce laws passed by the Legislative Branch. Statutes are created by federal, state and local legislatures, which are comprised of elected officials who have the power to create laws.

If the president or governor does not sign the bill within a specified number of days while the legislature is in session, the bill automatically becomes law. As regulation has become more widespread, the body of administrative law has become increasingly important. In addition to the FDA, there are a large number of other government agencies that are granted the power to enforce laws. Common law refers to law that has not actually been codified or approved by a legislature, but which, nevertheless, is applied by courts based on the tradition and legal history of the United States and even goes back to the legal system of England. When you break a law, a judge will analyze previous cases to see how courts treated similar cases and then try to rule as strictly as possible.

An exception to this is that a court can annul a law if it is unconstitutional (incompatible with the Constitution).Secondary sources are written in plain language about primary sources of law and are an excellent place to start research on any legal topic. Once you have thoroughly understood this lesson, evaluate your ability to analyze the sources of law in the American legal system.