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Types of Laws

Statutory Law

Legislation pertaining to civil and criminal matters enacted by a legally authorized legislative body, such as the U.S. Congress or a state legislature.

Federal statutory law consists of the laws passed by the United States Congress. Representation in Congress is based on population in the House of Representatives and with equal representation in the Senate.

  • Public laws affect society as a whole; most laws passed by Congress are public laws.
  • Private laws affect an individual, family, or small group; these and are enacted to assist citizens that have been injured by government programs or who are appealing an executive agency ruling such as deportation.

Once a bill is passed by Congress and signed by the President, it becomes a law. It is then is assigned a law number and published as a slip law.

At the end of each session of Congress, the slip laws are compiled into bound volumes called the Statutes at Large, and they are known as 'session laws.' The Statutes at Large are bound in the order that the laws were enacted.

Every six years, public laws are incorporated into the United States Code, which is a codification of all general and permanent laws of the United States. A supplement to the United States Code is published during each interim year until the next comprehensive volume is published. The United States Code is arranged by subject into 50 titles, and shows the present status of laws with amendments already incorporated in the text that have been amended on one or more occasions.

The Legislative Assembly consists of a Senate with 47 senators and a House of Representatives with 94 representatives, two from each of the 47 senatorial districts.

Members take office as of December 1 of even-numbered years. The Legislative Assembly convenes in regular session the following January.

 

In the United States Congress, bills are introduced in either the Senate or the House of Representatives and assigned a bill number (e.g., S123 or HR456).

Bills then go to a committee for consideration. If a bill dies at any stage, it can be reintroduced during the next session. Hearings may also be held on the bill and . committee members may hear testimony from experts and/or members of the public on the impact of the bill. The transcripts of most hearings are published.

After hearings, the committee studies, investigates, and submits a report with a recommendation to pass or not to pass. The bill is then put on the calendar of the full house and read. Debates then take place in the house and transcripts from these are printed in the Congressional Record.

After debates, the bill is voted on. If it's defeated, it's 'dead.' If passed, it goes to the other house, goes through the same steps, and is now called an Act. If it's amended, it's returned to the original house for study and a new vote on the amendments. If the amendments can't be agreed on, a joint conference committee may work out a compromise.

If it passes both houses, it's signed by the Vice-President (head of the Senate) and the Speaker of the House, and then sent to the President. It can then become a law if the President signs it, or if the President chooses neither to sign it nor veto it within ten days (except Sundays) while Congress remains in session. Congress may override a Presidential veto with a two-thirds majority. If it's unsigned and Congress adjourns within the ten days, it's automatically vetoed.

If it becomes law it's called a Public Law or Statute. A law may be affected later by Congress or by Federal courts. Congress may amend, repeal, revise or supersede a law, or a Federal court may test its constitutionality or validity if it's questioned in court.

For additional details check out:

Administrative Law

Rules and regulations are based on legislation and made by executive or administrative agencies with rule making and enforcement authority. Rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency are one example.

Proposed rules written by Federal agencies are published in the Federal Register. Final rules and regulations are arranged into fifty titles (subjects) in the Code of Federal Regulations; each title (subject) is revised annually.

Administrative agencies are created by Congress or a state legislature. Regulations, orders, etc. have the same level of authority as statutes.

Agencies receive rule-making authority from laws or statutes, or from executive orders issued by the President or a governor.

Proposed rules and regulations written by Federal agencies are published in the Federal Register along with notices of hearings on the rules and where to send public comments. After hearings, changes may be made. Final rules and their effective dates are published in the Federal Register. Administrative rules and regulations of the various bureaus and departments of the Federal government are arranged into fifty titles (subjects) in the Code of Federal Regulations. Each title is revised annually. The North Dakota Administrative Code contains rules and regulations issued by State agencies.

Agency hearings and decisions have the same authority as case law. Rules may be affected by changes in laws or statutes, as well as by agency or court decisions.

Case Law

Court decisions and opinions written by appellate court judges (such as the U.S. Supreme Court), state supreme courts, or district courts of appeals.

In addition to the links below, the NDSU Libraries have two resources related to federal case law.

Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of the United States, Lawyers’ Edition (1790-1955)

  • Contains orders and opinions of the Court. Most cases have annotations concerning legal matters raised by the case. Each volume includes a subject index and case index (by the first named party to the action).
    • Location: Off-Campus Storage Annex KF 101

Digest of United States Supreme Court Reports, Annotated with Case Annotations, Dissenting and Separate Opinions Since 1900

  • Provides subject access to the Cases argued and decided in the Supreme Court of the United States, Lawyers’ Edition.
    • Location: Main Library Reference (1st Floor) KF 101.1 .D5

The North Dakota judicial system consists of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, District Courts, and Municipal Courts. Together they form a judicial team responsible for providing an equal and fair system of justice to citizens of North Dakota. 

In addition to the links below, the NDSU Libraries have three resources related to state case law.

Reports of Cases Decided in the Supreme Court of the State of North Dakota (v1-79, 1890-1953)

  • Details North Dakota State Supreme Court Cases
    • Location: Off-Campus Storage Annex - Microfiche KFN8645 .A2

North Western Reporter

  • Reports state appellate cases for North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
    • Location: Off-Campus Storage Annex KF135 .N7

North Western Digest, 1836 to date; Covering North Western Reporter and Corresponding Cases in the Reports of the North Western State

  • Provides subject access to North Western Reporter.
    • Location: Main Library Reference (1st Floor) KF135.N72 N6

There are two types of courts: trial courts and appellate courts.

After a case is filed and jurisdiction is determined, the case may be set for trial with or without a jury. After a decision is made, the losing party has the right to appeal to the next highest court with appellate jurisdiction. For example, from Federal district court to Federal intermediate appellate court.

Matters which involve the Federal government, the Constitution, or Federal laws, or citizens from different states usually end up in Federal district courts. Matters relating to legal disputes between two or more parties are filed in state, district, or county trial court. Municipal matters are filed in city or municipal courts.


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Get Help

  Picture of Jylisa Doney, NDSU Social Sciences Librarian

  Jylisa Doney, Social Sciences Librarian

  Email: jylisa.doney@ndsu.edu
  Phone: 701-231-8817
  Office: Main Library 218C

Last updated: 8/19/2016