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Law of the United State

 Law of the United States

 

The law of the United States comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law, of which the most important is the nation's Constitution, which prescribes the foundation of the federal government of the United States, as well as various civil liberties. The Constitution sets out the boundaries of federal law, which consists of Acts of Congress, treaties ratified by the Senate, regulations promulgated by the executive branch, and case law originating from the federal judiciary. The United States Code is the official compilation and codification of general and permanent federal statutory law.

 



Federal law and treaties

Federal law and treaties, so long as they are in accordance with the Constitution, preempt conflicting state and territorial laws in the 50 U.S. states and in the territories. However, the scope of federal preemption is limited because the scope of federal power is not universal. In the dual sovereign system of American federalism (actually tripartite because of the presence of Indian reservations), states are the plenary sovereigns, each with their own constitution, while the federal sovereign possesses only the limited supreme authority enumerated in the Constitution.Indeed, states may grant their citizens broader rights than the federal Constitution as long as they do not infringe on any federal constitutional rights.

Thus U.S. law (especially the actual "living law" of contract, tort, property, criminal, and family law experienced by the majority of citizens on a day-to-day basis) consists primarily of state law, which can and does vary greatly from one state to the next.

At both the federal and state levels, with the exception of the state of Louisiana, the law of the United States is largely derived from the common law system of English law, which was in force at the time of the American Revolutionary War. However, American law has diverged greatly from its English ancestor both in terms of substance and procedure[16] and has incorporated a number of civil law innovations

Levels of law

Federal law originates with the Constitution, which gives Congress the power to enact statutes for certain limited purposes like regulating interstate commerce. The United States Code is the official compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal statutes. Many statutes give executive branch agencies the power to create regulations, which are published in the Federal Register and codified into the Code of Federal Regulations. Regulations generally also carry the force of law under the Chevron doctrine. Many lawsuits turn on the meaning of a federal statute or regulation, and judicial interpretations of such meaning carry legal force under the principle of stare decisis.

 

During the 18th and 19th centuries, federal law traditionally focused on areas where there was an express grant of power to the federal government in the federal Constitution, like the military, money, foreign relations (especially international treaties), tariffs, intellectual property (specifically patents and copyrights), and mail. Since the start of the 20th century, broad interpretations of the Commerce and Spending Clauses of the Constitution have enabled federal law to expand into areas like aviation, telecommunications, railroads, pharmaceuticals, antitrust, and trademarks. In some areas, like aviation and railroads, the federal government has developed a comprehensive scheme that preempts virtually all state law, while in others, like family law, a relatively small number of federal statutes (generally covering interstate and international situations) interacts with a much larger body of state law. In areas like antitrust, trademark, and employment law, there are powerful laws at both the federal and state levels that coexist with each other. In a handful of areas like insurance, Congress has enacted laws expressly refusing to regulate them as long as the states have laws regulating them (see, e.g., the McCarran–Ferguson Act).

Statutes

After the president signs a bill into law (or Congress enacts it over the president's veto), it is delivered to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) where it is assigned a law number, and prepared for publication as a slip law. Public laws, but not private laws, are also given legal statutory citation by the OFR. At the end of each session of Congress, the slip laws are compiled into bound volumes called the United States Statutes at Large, and they are known as session laws. The Statutes at Large present a chronological arrangement of the laws in the exact order that they have been enacted.

 

Public laws are incorporated into the United States Code, which is a codification of all general and permanent laws of the United States. The main edition is published every six years by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the House of Representatives, and cumulative supplements are published annually. The U.S. Code is arranged by subject matter, and it shows the present status of laws (with amendments already incorporated in the text) that have been amended on one or more occasions.

 



Regulations

Congress often enacts statutes that grant broad rulemaking authority to federal agencies. Often, Congress is simply too gridlocked to draft detailed statutes that explain how the agency should react to every possible situation, or Congress believes the agency's technical specialists are best equipped to deal with particular fact situations as they arise. Therefore, federal agencies are authorized to promulgate regulations. Under the principle of Chevron deference, regulations normally carry the force of law as long as they are based on a reasonable interpretation of the relevant statutes.[41]

 

Regulations are adopted pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Regulations are first proposed and published in the Federal Register (FR or Fed. Reg.) and subject to a public comment period. Eventually, after a period for public comment and revisions based on comments received, a final version is published in the Federal Register. The regulations are codified and incorporated into the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) which is published once a year on a rolling schedule.

 

Besides regulations formally promulgated under the APA, federal agencies also frequently promulgate an enormous amount of forms, manuals, policy statements, letters, and rulings. These documents may be considered by a court as persuasive authority as to how a particular statute or regulation may be interpreted (known as Skidmore deference), but are not entitled to Chevron deference.

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