Legal Definition of Sources Of The Law

By this expression is understood the authority from which the laws derive their force.4 min read

Sources of the Law: By this expression is understood the authority from which the laws derive their force.

The power of making all laws is in the people or their representatives, and none can have any force whatever, which is derived from any other source. But it is not required that the legislator shall expressly pass upon all laws, and give the sanction of his seal, before they can have life or existence. The laws are therefore such as have received an express sanction, and such as derive their force and effect from implication.

1. The first, or express, are the Constitution of the United States, and the treaties and acts of the legislature which have been made by virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution. To these must be added the Constitution of the state and the laws made by the state legislature, or by other subordinate legislative bodies, by virtue of the authority conveyed by such Constitution. The latter, or tacit, received their effect by the general use of them by the people, when they assume the name of customs by the adoption of rules by the courts from systems of foreign laws.

The express laws are:

  • The Constitution of the United States
  • The treaties made with foreign powers;
  • The acts of congress
  • The Constitutions of the respective states
  • The laws made by the several state legislatures
  • The laws made by inferior legislative bodies, such as the councils of municipal corporations
  • The general rules made by the courts

The Constitution is an act of the people themselves, made by their representatives elected for that purpose. It is the supreme law of the land, and is binding on all future legislative bodies, until it shall be altered by tho authority of the people, in the manner, provided for in the instrument itself, and if an act be passed contrary to the provisions of the Constitution, it is, ipso facto, void.

Treaties made under the authority of the Constitution are declared to be the supreme law of the land, and therefore obligatory on courts.