Executive Orders

A third source of law that judges and lawyers examine are executive orders (EOs). This is an uncommon resource when compared to other legal sources. Executive orders are laws made by chief executives, such as presidents and governors. Some executive orders are based on statutes, so they are similar to administrative regulations. Other executive orders are based on the powers that the federal or state constitution gives the chief executive, so they are similar to statutes. Depicted below is Executive Order #8802 – Fair Employment Practice in Defense Industries – signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.


United States Code

The next source of law judges and lawyers browse upon is the United States Code (USC). The USC is a multivolume selection of books, which display each and every federal and state statute. Statutes are laws enacted by legislatures. (Laws passed by local, within the state, legislative bodies are usually called ordinances.) While constitutions deal primarily with the powers of government, statutes generally are directed at society as a whole. Statutes often prohibit a form of conduct.


Generally, the first legal source judges and lawyers observe is the content of constitutions. In Dual Federalism, there is one federal government and multiple state governments. The federal government contains a constitution that is the supreme law of the land, and is superior to both federal and state laws (statutes). Each state government contains its own unique state constitution; however, a state’s constitution may not trump over the federal government’s constitution.This predicament is called Preemption, and it rarely transpires. However, if preemption does come about, the federal government will sue the individual or multiple state(s) or place sanctions upon the state(s). Sanctions will be removed once the state(s) become compliant.

I digress, the federal and state constitutions establish basic rules about the powers of government and the procedures by which government is to operate. Pictured below is an example of a constitution – The United States Constitution (does not include the Bill of Rights).

The U.S. Constitution (Part 1)The U.S. Constitution (Part 2)The U.S. Constitution (Part 3)The U.S. Constitution (Part 4)

Sources of Law

Lawyers tirelessly spend several hours gazing upon different legal materials in order to achieve a perfect argument. This process is termed – Legal Research. The legal materials that lawyers examine are named – Legal Sources or Sources of Law. There are many legal sources lawyers utilize within the United States. The most commonly observed sources, but not limited to, include: The United States Constitution, the United States Code (USC), the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Executive Orders, and the United States Reports – a printed multi-volume selection of reports containing every single U.S. Supreme Court case and ruling. To get a glimpse of each source, click here.