Free Essay Sample on the Sources of American Law

Published: 2022-09-27
Free Essay Sample on the Sources of American Law
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Judicial system Constitution
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 619 words
6 min read

The law is the foundation of the norm of conduct for citizens in a particular country. It lays out the guidelines and expected behavior of every individual. The law is derived from various sources which include constitutions, statutes, common or case law, and regulatory law.

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Constitutions are perhaps the major sources of American law. a constitution is a written document that establishes an organized government through outlining of various provisions as well as the basis. For example, there are the federal and state constitutions. The first three Articles in the federal constitution outline the structure and scope of the federal government (Dicey, 2013). Federal and state constitutions are a blueprint for respective governments meaning that everything done by the government organs should be consistent with the respective constitution or otherwise it shall be rendered unconstitutional and consequently unlawful.

Statutes also act as key sources of law. a statute is a legislative enactment either by the federal, state or local legislatures. The legislatures are bodies charged with the creation of laws. For instance, Congress is a legislative arm of the federal government that makes federal statutory laws. Similarly, the state legislatures create laws for the various states resulting in statutory laws. The federal and statutory laws usually lay a foundation for the court as they are applied to the facts of a case if available (Frank & Bix, 2017). An example of the federal statutory law is the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) which was created by the Congress to create laws guiding access of elementary and secondary education for disadvantaged students (Law, 2002). Example of a state statutory law is the vehicle and traffic laws that guide speed limits and traffic conduct.

Moreover, common or case law also acts as vital sources of the American law. A common or case law is a law originating directly from the court's decision issued by a judge. For example, when during a case the judge issues a case opinion which is then published, that opinion will act as a law or legal guideline when deciding future cases related to that. Case laws usually originate from the supreme and lower courts.

Likewise, the regulatory law provides a legal basis for Americans. Regulatory law, also known as administrative law, refers to the regulatory or rule bodies established through administrative agencies. An administrative agency is a body that is established by the legislature to act on behalf of the executive arm of the government in the administration of government functions (Kingsbury, Krisch & Stewart, 2005). They act as enabling statutes and give rise to laws. For example, the Congress has mandated the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect the environment by following the federal statute, Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, established by the Congress. In this essence, the Congress has established EPA as an administrative agency under the above-mentioned statute and is allowed to formulate its own regulations to undertake their mandate or execute duties assigned by the Congress and achieve the intended purpose.

American law if provided for by various sources which altogether establish guidelines for the citizens. Common sources of the law in America include the constitutions, statutes, common or case law and regulatory law. Each of the sources is expected to establish a clear guideline that serves as a blueprint to the government, its branch or an agency charged with implementing or acting consistently according to that law.


Dicey, A. V. (2013). The law of the constitution (Vol. 1). OUP Oxford.Frank, J., & Bix, B. H. (2017). Law and the modern mind. Routledge.

Kingsbury, B., Krisch, N., & Stewart, R. B. (2005). The emergence of global administrative law. Law and contemporary problems, 68(3/4), 15-61.

Law, P. (2002). No child left behind act of 2001. Public Law, 107, 110.

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