U.S. Primary Law

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What is "primary law?"

The terms "primary law" and "primary authority" in U.S. usage refer to the categories of legal texts (statutes and codes, cases, regulations, and treaties) created by legislative bodies, courts, and agencies that taken together are the legal authorities that constitute "the law."

They are distinguished from "secondary authorities," resources such as treatises, articles, and annotations that comment on the law or help a researcher find or interpret the law, and which may influence a legal outcome, but do not control the outcome.


Internet sites, including government sites, usually cannot reflect the most recent changes in law and in some cases are very out of date. Free Web sites provided here are among the best available, but users should not assume they provide current law.

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