Compliance in the United States

Obedience to the requirements of a court decision. Compliance is normally obtained voluntarily. This means that the party who needs to take an action or stop an action as a result of a court decision usually does so on his or her own. Compliance is obviously not obtained from a losing party because of agreement with the decision. Rather, the party complies because the decision is “the law,” and the court has the authority to make such a judgment. Compliance may also occur because sanctions will be imposed without it. Conversely, non- compliance with judicial decisions may result if no sanction is forthcoming in the absence of compliance. The likelihood of noncompliance also increases if the court is not perceived as the appropriate or authoritative source of a decision. Failure to comply with court decisions on school prayer, for example, is often attributed to school board member perceptions that secular courts were not the final or legitimate authority on matters of religion and prayer. In addition, compliance often depends on the clarity of a court’s decision. The courts must effectively communicate what needs to be done in order to comply. Finally, compliance depends on how lower courts apply the decision to particular cases. Lower courts can demand full compliance or can avoid it by making limiting interpretations of what is required. This is a distinct possibility because appellate decisions are normally returned or remanded to lower courts for implementation.

See Also

Impact (Judicial Effects and Policies) Implementation (Judicial Effects and Policies).

Analysis and Relevance

Judicial decisions are legally binding, and compliance usually follows. While compliance is the norm, full compliance is sometimes not achieved. In extreme cases, there may be noncompliance. Compliance is a function of the losing party’s willingness to abide by the decision. Threat of sanctions creates great incentive to comply. In some cases, effective sanction possibilities do not exist. Under such circumstances, attempts to deliberately evade or avoid compliance can result. Resistance to the school desegregation decisions of the 1950s was extensive, especially in the South. Assistance in implementing the decisions was not immediately forthcoming from the other branches. Indeed, noncompliance was furthered by such actions as the signing of the “Southern Manifesto” by a large number of congressional members. The “Manifesto” was highly critical of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education I (347 U.S. 483: 1954). The resistance to Brown was based on the policy content. In other situations, full compliance may not occur because the Court fails to effectively set forth what the decision requires. Ambiguity in opinions creates opportunities for lower courts or others who may be key to implementation to determine what compliance requires. Com-pliance problems seldom arise at the trial level. The nature of the issues and the enforcement mechanisms are such that full compliance is hard to avoid. Appellate decisions, on the other hand, are of a different order. Compliance with appellate decisions, especially those involving highly controversial public policy issues, is not automatic.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Compliance from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

Compliance (Freedom of Information)

This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of compliance. Then, cross references and a brief overview about Freedom of Information is provided. Finally, the subject of Governmental Information in relation with compliance is examined. Note that a list of cross references, bibliography and other resources appears at the end of this entry.


See Also

  • Legal Topics.
  • Further Reading (Articles)

    COMPLIANCE OFFICERS in the TRENCHES, Independent Banker; October 1, 2013

    Compliance 360 Integrates New York State Office of Medicaid Inspector General’s Compliance Program Assessment Tool., Managed Care Weekly Digest; July 25, 2011

    Compliance programs mean good business., Homecare Quality Management; October 1, 1998

    Compliance is a million-dollar word., Managed Care Strategies; June 1, 1998

    COMPLIANCE and its relationship to internal audit, Accountancy SA; June 1, 2008; Terblanché, Janet van der Merwe, Reinette Schlebusch, Celeste

    Compliance 360 Study: Demonstrating Compliance Effectiveness, Top Priority for Healthcare Organizations in 2011, Wireless News; April 27, 2011

    Compliance Risk Management Strategy Will Have Positive Bottom-Line Effect, Kentucky Banker Magazine; February 1, 2007; Thomas, Tom Halaska, Chris

    Compliance officer role expands to accreditation., Compliance Hotline; August 14, 2000

    Compliance Solutions, Credit Union Management; December 1, 2010; Anonymous

    Compliance Can’t Thrive in a Vacuum, ABA Banking Journal; December 1, 1993; Barefoot, Jo Ann S.

    Compliance Examiners Expect You to ‘Show Your Work.’ (Regulatory Compliance)(includes Related Articles), ABA Banking Journal; July 1, 1993; Griffin, Lucy H.

    Compliance program is a necessity, not a luxury., Hospital Home Health; September 1, 1998

    Compliance program could placate authorities., Hospice Management Advisor; May 1, 1999

    Compliance Programs-On Everyone’s Agenda: The Past Decade Has Shown a Significant Shift in Corporate Thinking about Compliance, as It Has Become a Key Consideration for a Risk-Intelligent Enterprise. Here Is Some Current Thinking about the Strategic Value of Enterprise Compliance and How to Create It, Financial Executive; July 1, 2013; Sandford, Nicole Epps, Donna

    Compliance Software Targets Auto Finance Companies, Product News Network; November 19, 2013

    Deloitte/Compliance Week Survey: Company Compliance Programs Evolving Slowly but Significant Issues Impede Progress, Entertainment Close-up; August 15, 2013

    Compliance Training Enhances N.C. Health System: CaroMont Health Quickly Realized Benefits from Its Newly Deployed Training Program, Health Management Technology; April 1, 2013; Horseman, Donnetta

    Compliance Management Software Facilitates Vendor Screening, Product News Network; February 5, 2014

    COMPLIANCE AND BUSINESS INTEGRITY (CBI) PROGRAM, US Fed News Service, Including US State News; July 31, 2006

    Deloitte/Compliance Week Survey: Measuring Success of Compliance Functions Can be More Difficult Than Measuring Other Traditional Business Drivers, Wireless News; August 25, 2013

    Compliance in Labor Law

    According to, Compliance is defined as: A situation in which an agency fully meets the requirements of laws, rules and regulations and court cases which mandate nondiscrimination and affirmative action.

    Compliance in Labor Law

    According to, Compliance is defined as: A situation in which an agency fully meets the requirements of laws, rules and regulations and court cases which mandate nondiscrimination and affirmative action.


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