US- Law History
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US- Law History, the law of the United States comprises many levels[education] of codified and uncodified forms of law, of which the most important is the United States Constitution, the foundation of the federal government of the United States.
US- Law History
The Constitution sets out the boundaries of federal law, which consists of acts of Congress,[Violence] treaties ratified by the Senate,[Tour] regulations promulgated by the executive branch,[Dare to live] and case law originating from the federal judiciary.[International] The United States Code is the official compilation and codification of general and permanent federal statutory law.
This publication contains the text of title 17 of the United States Code, including all amendments enacted by Congress through June 30, 2016. It includes the Copyright Act of 1976 and all subsequent amendments to copyright law; the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984, as amended; and the Vessel Hull Design Protection Act, as amended. The Copyright Office is responsible for registering intellectual property claims under all three.
More than 200 years ago, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay published a series of essays promoting the ratification of the United States Constitution now known as Federalist Papers. In explaining the need for an independent judiciary, Alexander Hamilton noted in The Federalist 78 that the federal courts “were designed to be an intermediate body between the people and their legislature” in order to ensure that the people’s representatives acted only within the authority given to Congress under the Constitution.
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, most 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, and has incorporated a number of civil law innovations
Chapters 9 and 13 of title 17 contain two types of design protection that are independent of copyright protection. Chapter 9 of title 17 is the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984 (SCPA), as amended. The SCPA was enacted as title III of Pub.
L. No. 98-620, 98 Stat. 3335, 3347, on November 8, 1984. Chapter 13 of title 17 is the Vessel Hull Design Protection Act (VHDPA), as amended. The VHDPA was enacted on October 28, 1998, as title V of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Pub.
L. No. 105-304, 112 Stat. 2860, 2905. Subsequent amendments to the title 17 provisions for SCPA and the VHDPA are also included in the list below, in chronological order of their enactment.
In the United States, the law is derived from five sources: constitutional law, statutory law, treaties, administrative regulations, and the common law (which includes case law).
Where Congress enacts a statute that conflicts with the Constitution, the Supreme Court may find that law unconstitutional and declare it invalid.
Notably, a statute does not disappear automatically merely because it has been found unconstitutional; it must be deleted by a subsequent statute. Many federal and state statutes have remained on the books for decades after they were ruled to be unconstitutional.
However, under the principle of stare decisis, no sensible lower court will enforce an unconstitutional statute, and any court that does so will be reversed by the Supreme Court. Conversely, any court that refuses to enforce a constitutional statute (where such constitutionality has been expressly established in prior cases) will risk reversal by the Supreme Court.
American common law
The United States and most Commonwealth countries are heirs to the common law legal tradition of English law. Certain practices traditionally allowed under English common law were expressly outlawed by the Constitution, such as bills of attainder and general search warrants.
As common law courts, U.S. courts have inherited the principle of stare decisis. American judges, like common law judges elsewhere, not only apply the law, they also make the law, to the extent that their decisions in the cases before them become precedent for decisions in future cases.
The actual substance of English law was formally “received” into the United States in several ways. First, all U.S. states except Louisiana have enacted “reception statutes” which generally state that the common law of England (particularly judge-made law) is the law of the state to the extent that it is not repugnant to domestic law or indigenous conditions.
Some reception statutes impose a specific cutoff date for reception, such as the date of a colony’s founding, while others are deliberately vague. Thus, contemporary U.S. courts often cite pre-Revolution cases when discussing the evolution of an ancient judge-made common law principle into its modern form, such as the heightened duty of care traditionally imposed upon common carriers.
Second, a small number of important British statutes in effect at the time of the Revolution have been independently reenacted by U.S. states. Two examples that many lawyers will recognize are the Statute of Frauds (still widely known in the U.S. by that name) and the Statute of 13 Elizabeth (the ancestor of the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act). Such English statutes are still regularly cited in contemporary American cases interpreting their modern American descendants.
However, it is important to understand that despite the presence of reception statutes, much of contemporary American common law has diverged significantly from English common law. The reason is that although the courts of the various Commonwealth nations are often influenced by each other’s rulings, American courts rarely follow post-Revolution Commonwealth rulings unless there is no American ruling on point, the facts and law at issue are nearly identical, and the reasoning is strongly persuasive.
Today, in the words of Stanford law professor Lawrence Friedman: “American cases rarely cite foreign materials. Courts occasionally cite a British classic or two, a famous old case, or a nod to Blackstone; but current British law almost never gets any mention.” Foreign law has never been cited as binding precedent, but as a reflection of the shared values of Anglo-American civilization or even Western civilization in general.
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 .
United States Code
Further information: United States Statutes at Large and List of United States federal legislation
The United States Code, the codification of federal statutory law
After the President signs a bill into law (or Congress enacts it over his 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.
Code of Federal Regulations
The Code of Federal Regulations, the codification of federal administrative law
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.
Common law, case law, and precedent
The United States Reports, the official reporter of the Supreme Court of the United States
Further information: United States Reports and National Reporter System
Unlike the situation with the states, there is no plenary reception statute at the federal level that continued the common law and thereby granted federal courts the power to formulate legal precedent like their English predecessors.
English judges in the eighteenth century subscribed to now-obsolete natural law theories of law, by which law was believed to have an existence independent of what individual judges said. Judges saw themselves as merely declaring the law which had always theoretically existed, and not as making the law. Therefore, a judge could reject another judge’s opinion as simply an incorrect statement of the law, in the way that scientists regularly reject each other’s conclusions as incorrect statements of the laws of science.
Under the doctrine of Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins (1938), there is no general federal common law. Although federal courts can create federal common law in the form of case law, such law must be linked one way or another to the interpretation of a particular federal constitutional provision, statute, or regulation (which in turn was enacted as part of the Constitution or after). Federal courts lack the plenary power possessed by state courts to simply make up law, which the latter are able to do in the absence of constitutional or statutory provisions replacing the common law. Only in a few narrow limited areas, like maritime law,[War] has the Constitution expressly authorized the continuation of English common law at the federal level (meaning that in those areas federal courts can continue to make law as they see fit, subject to the limitations of stare decisis).
Although judicial interpretations of federal law from the federal district and intermediate appellate courts hold great persuasive weight, state courts are not bound to follow those interpretations.[Law] There is only one federal court that binds all state courts as to the interpretation of federal law and the federal Constitution: the U.S. Supreme Court itself.