Implementation in the United States

Putting into effect a judicial decision. The nature of the implementation process differs between trial and appellate levels. Decisions of trial courts are generally implemented through voluntary compliance or executive action. A criminal sentence, for example, is usually implemented by corrections authorities. Judgments in civil actions are generally implemented voluntarily, but threat of judicial contempt may be sufficient to forestall noncompliance. The courts also depend on external support for implementation. Support of this kind typically comes from administrative agencies. The kind of agency support needed for implementation is a function of the content of the decision. If the decision involves classroom practices in public schools, for example, the implementing agency is the local school district and its trustees. Similarly, decisions involving searches and seizures involve police departments. The implementation of appellate decisions contains an additional step. If an appeals court vacates a lower court decision, the case is normally remanded to the lower court for implementation. Additional administrative support may be required thereafter. Because responsibility for implementing decisions is decentralized, substantial variation can occur. This variation is the product of several factors. The first involves the extent to which those responsible for implementation agree with the policy embraced in the appellate court decision. Implementation efforts tend to be limited where policy preferences of the court and the implementors do not coincide. The second factor is the likelihood of penalty if compliance does not take place. If there are no sanctions for failure to complywith a particular decision, it may not be implemented. Finally, implementation is furthered when the authority of the court to render the decision is clear. This involves perceptions of legitimacy. If the Supreme Court is perceived as the legitimate authority on certain policy questions, implementation of its decision, whatever it may be, will likely occur simply because it is “the law.” See also Compliance (Judicial Effects and Policies) Court “Curbing” (Judicial Effects and Policies) Impact (Judicial Effects and Policies).

Analysis and Relevance

The legislative and executive branches possess powers that directly affect the implementation process. For example, if legislative bodies are dissatisfied with the way courts interpret or apply statutes, judicial decisions can be reversed by enacting a “clarifying” statute. Legislatures and executives can also have an impact on the implementation process by taking sides on controversial questions. This, in turn, can influence the behavior of key implementors at the local level. Resistance may be encouraged by actions that oppose court decisions. Further, the executive and legislative branches may or may not provide necessary support to bring about implementation. For example, Congress made it clear that financial support would not be forthcoming if the Supreme Court allowed President Harry S Truman to retain operating control of privately owned steel mills in 1952. On the other hand, presidential support has often been decisive in securing implementation. For example, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to compel compliance with court orders requiring desegregation of the public schools.

Notes and References

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

Concept of Implementation

In the U.S., in the context of Presidency and Executive Power, Implementation has the following meaning: Action to put into effect or execute a policy, chiefly the role of the executive branch of government. (Source of this definition of Implementation : University of Texas)



In Legislation

Implementation in the U.S. Code: Title 7, Chapter 87, Subchapter II, Part B

The current, permanent, in-force federal laws regulating implementation are compiled in the United States Code under Title 7, Chapter 87, Subchapter II, Part B. It constitutes “prima facie” evidence of statutes relating to Agriculture (including implementation) of the United States. The reader can further narrow his/her legal research of the general topic (in this case, Exports of the US Code, including implementation) by chapter and subchapter.


See Also

  • Presidency
  • Executive Power

Implementation: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Implementation. This part provides references, in relation to Implementation, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Implementation by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Implementation and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Implementation or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Implementation and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Implementation. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Implementation should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Implementation when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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