The Lawmaking Branches of the Government

American law is a system of concrete rules that come from a variety of private and public sources. This chapter will focus on the public lawmaking institutions-the legislative, executive, and judicial branch. Those lawmaking institutions function both at the federal and state level. This chapter will briefly describe how the legislative branch passes statutes, the judiciary branch adjudicates cases and controversies, and how the executive branch and administrative agencies issue rules and adjudicate disputes.

If you understand how public law is created and where it is recorded, you will be able to effectively study and research the law of your interest. You will be able to identify the appropriate repositories of law and find what you need. Then you will be able to strategize the most effective way of comprehensively updating your research. You know already that the U.S. government is a federation composed of 50 states. You may also know that the U.S. government is one of separated powers. As Alexander Hamilton stated in the //Federalist No. 22//, the voice of the “pure, original fountain of all legitimate authority”behind this government is the American people.

However this fountain has an inherently ambiguous source, as it can be state legislations, federal legislation or the mob-the people itself. Eventually, this ambiguity became clarified: the sovereign people delegated the necessary power to govern to both the state and the federal government. If the people represent the source of legitimacy of public law, both at the federal and state level, nevertheless, the powers of the federal and the state government do not interfere. Another Founding Father, James Madison, stated in Federalist No. 57, that “[t]he federal and State governments are in fact but different agents and trustees of the people, constituted with different powers, and designed for different purposes.”

Although separate, the governmental powers exercised through federal and state institutional structures are practically identical. Furthermore, they are open to identical congressional and judicial scrutiny. First, due to its internal-bicameral-organization, legislative bodies successfully make the tyranny of the majority impossible, and make the passage of unconstitutional statutes quasi-impossible. Then, as further detailed below, the judiciary exercises its control over both state and federal legislation every time an aggrieved party brings a lawsuit.