I understand that the Constitution is the highest law of the land and is set apart from other laws that are made. So when the legislature creates a new law that doesn't modify or amend the Constitution, what does it modify or amend?

Is the rest of all law just lumped together into one category? What is it called?

  • 1
    I think "statutory law" may be the term you're looking for, but I'm not sure it comprises all law that isn't constitutional.
    – Publius
    Jul 30, 2013 at 21:24

1 Answer 1


Statutory Law

Statutory Laws are passed by the United States Congress.

Statutory law in the United States consists of the laws passed by the legislature. For the federal government, then, the statutory law is the acts passed by the United States Congress.

These acts are designated as Public Laws or Private Laws. Public laws relate to the general public, while private laws relate to specific institutions or individuals. Most of the laws passed by Congress are public laws, and these are the laws which you will typically need to research.

Once a bill is passed by Congress and signed by the President it becomes a Public Law. The legislation receives a Public Law number based on the Congress and when it was issued. Therefore, P.L. 101-5 would be the fifth law enacted in the 101st Congress.

If the statutory law was codified, it would appear in the United States Code, but not all Public Laws are codified. If the law wasn't, it will numbered by the Congress and order issued.

There are lots of other law that isn't part of the Constitution, but they are not lumped together, they are each categorized differently. (Judicial Branch) Case Law/Common Law is law based upon previous court cases that set precedence. (Exeutive Branch)Regulatory Law is a collection of rules published by departments and agencies of the federal government. I am sure there are other divisions/sub-divisions as well.

  • Note: I am not sure exacty you meant by, "creates a new law that does modify or amend the Constitution." Congress doesn't. They can propose an amendment to the constitution (or the states can hold a constitutional convention), but is actually 3/4 of the states legislatures that are necessary to ratify it and make it part of the Constitution.
    – user1873
    Jul 31, 2013 at 6:42

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