Laws are rules that govern relationships between individuals, organizations, and governments. These laws may involve issues such as contract rights, property, debt, immigration, and money. Depending on the issue, the legal system can be administered by the state or federal government.
Legal systems are divided into three main categories: civil, federal, and common law. Each category contains different levels of law.
Federal law is a set of regulations and case law originating from the executive branch of the government. These include the Code of Federal Regulations and acts of Congress. The United States Constitution lays out the basis of the federal government.
Civil law, on the other hand, is a legal system that includes judicial decisions, legislative statutes, and case law. It is often shorter than other forms of law and is usually less detailed.
Common law legal systems also include a doctrine of precedent, which means that a court’s decision in one case will be applied in a later similar case. This is called the rule of stare decisis.
Laws are enforced by both the government and private individuals. Governments are usually accountable for the actions of their officials. Private individuals, however, can also form legally binding contracts.
Both the federal and the state level of law are important. The federal level consists of the United States Constitution and the federal judiciary. In addition, the federal government is governed by treaties and statutory regulations.
Unlike many countries, the United States has multiple levels of law. There are several levels of federal law, and some issues can be heard in both the federal and state courts.