There are several sources of American law. The primary sources of law include documents that establish the law on a particular issue. These include a constitution, a statute, an administrative rule, or a court decision. Secondary sources of law are books and articles that summarize and clarify the primary sources of law. These include legal encyclopedias compilations, official comments to statutes, treatises, articles in law reviews published by law schools, and articles in other legal journals. Courts usually refer to secondary sources of law for guidance in interpreting and applying the primary source of law.
Sources of American law include constitutional law, statutory law, administrative law, and case law and common law doctrines. Constitutional law is expressed in the U.S Constitution and several state constitutions. The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land and state constitutions are supreme only within state borders to the extent that they do not violate the U.S. constitution or federal law. Statutory laws are laws or ordinances created by federal, state, and local legislatures and governing bodies. These laws cannot violate the U.S. Constitution or the relevant state constitutions.
Administrative law is constituted of rules, orders, and decisions of federal or state government administrative agencies. Case law and common law doctrines are judge-made laws. These include interpretations of constitutional provisions, of statutes enacted by legislatures, and of regulations created by administrative agencies. The common law-doctrines and principles embodied in case law-governs all areas not covered by statutory law (or agency regulations issued to implement various statutes.
Common Law originated in medieval England with the creation of the king’s courts, curiae regis, and the establishment of a uniform set of rules for the country as a whole. Eventually, the common law tradition became part of the heritage of all British colonies,...