Video Notes

There are four sources of law in the United States

  1. Constitution
  2. Statutes
  3. Administrative Regulations
  4. Case Law

It is important to realize that the above list is also provided in order of authority, meaning the Constitution will trump statutes, statutes will trump administrative regulations, and so on.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and all other sources must abide by it.

Statutes come from Congress and bind both federal and state governments. An example of a Statute is the Affordable Care Act.

Administrative regulations are given by an agency who can determine which laws can be applied and enforced.

Case Law is interesting because it has the lowest authority, but can also be used to determine if one source violates another source of law.

Systems of Government run parallel

We live in a federalism based government. This means that we have a federal government that works with several states. Each state has adopted their own Constitution and system of governance. Although separate, each state’s form of organization runs parallel with that of the federal government and each state is bound by the Constitution and federal statutes.

Federal Judicial System

The federal judicial system is built up of:

  1. A Supreme Court with 9 justices
    • Can grant “cert” from any federal court of appeals or from the highest state court
  2. 13 Circuit courts of appeals.
    • Geographical by the district courts
  3. and 94 district courts.
    • Each state ranges from 1-4 courts per state. Iowa has 2

State Judicial System

The state judicial system is often set up similar to the Federal judicial system with:

  1. A high court
  2. A court of appeals
  3. A trial court

The difference is that these courts draw their sources of law from state matters or from the Supreme Court, not from federal appellate or district courts.


From the notes: There are four main sources of law in a hierarchal fashion. This order goes from the Constitution, then the Statutes, then administrative rules, then common law. Using these sources, courts are organized in both a federal and state level where they form a parallel 3 tier court system.

From note taking: I still am taking the time to pause the video to take my notes. While in classes, I won’t have this luxury. Instead, I will need to decide what are the key takeaways and make sure I take notes on that so I can limit the time to take notes.

If you would like to listen to this article instead, play below.

Categories: Orientation

Will Laursen

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