Public Law

Public Law in the United States

Law that generally concerns the activities of the state as it exercises its sovereign power. Public law is a classification that includes such elements as constitutional, criminal, and Administrative Law (Judicial Function). It extends to the structural organization of the political system. The authority of government as well as the constraints under which government must act are defined by public law. Public law applies to the people as a whole rather than selectively to individuals or small groups. In other words, public law protects or advances a public as distinct from a private interest. Public law is also a designation applied to international law or the law that extends to relationships among political systems. (1)

Analysis and Relevance

Public law is essentially concerned with authority, obligations, and rights. The substance of public law is most commonly contained in constitutions and legislative enactments. The provisions protecting free speech and authorizing regulation of interstate commerce are illustrative of public law derived from the national constitution. Public law in the form of statutes is more extensive, although it is subordinate to constitutional directives. Statutes governing, for example, taxation, immigration, business regulation, or consumer protection or defining criminal conduct fill volumes. A large proportion of this body of law is related to the development of the administrative state. Those rules that emanate from administrative agencies are also part of the body of public law. (2)

Public Law Definition

In one sense, international law. In another sense, a general law. (3)

Public Law in Foreign Legal Encyclopedias

Link Description
Public Law Public Law in the World Legal Encyclopedia.
Public Law Public Law in the European Legal Encyclopedia.
Public Law Public Law in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia.
Public Law Public Law in the UK Legal Encyclopedia.
Public Law Public Law in the Australian Legal Encyclopedia.

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Definitions in the American Encyclopedia of Law for Public Law

The legal dictionaries included on the Encyclopedia about the definition of Public Law ensure that words are understood in their proper context:

Resource Description
Public Law in the Dictionaries Public Law in the International Dictionary
Public Law in the U.S. Dictionary Public Law in the American Dictionary The URI of Public Law (more about URIs)

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Notes and References

  1. Definition of Public Law from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California
  2. Id.
  3. This definition of Public Law Is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This definition needs to be proofread..

See Also

Further Reading (Books)

“Association Of American Law Schools 1938 Selected Essays on Constitutional Law. 4 vols. Chicago: Foundation Press. -* A supplement was published in 1963 by West as Selected Essays on Constitutional Law, 1938-1962.

Bayley, David H. 1962 Preventive Detention in India: A Case Study in Democratic Social Control. Calcutta: Mukhopadhyay.

Becker, Theodore L. 1964 Political Behaviorism and Modern Jurisprudence: A Working Theory and Study in Judicial Decision-making. Chicago: Rand McNally.

Bentley, Arthur F. (1908) 1949 The Process of Government: A Study of Social Pressures. Bloomington, Ind.: Principia Press.

Bernard, Jessie 1955 Dimensions and Axes of Supreme Court Decisions: A Study in the Sociology of Conflict. Social Forces 34:19-27.

Berns, Walter 1957 Freedom, Virtue, and the First Amendment. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press.

Berns, Walter 1963 Law and Behavioral Science. Law and Contemporary Problems 28:185-212.

Beveridge, Albert J. 1916-1919 The Life of John Marshall. 4 vols. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. -* Volume 1: Frontiersman, Soldier, Lawmaker, 1755-1788. Volume 2: Politician, Diplomatist, Statesman, 1789—1801. Volume 3: Conflict and Construction, 1800-1815. Volume 4: The Building of the Nation, 1815-1835.

Beyle, Herman C. 1931 Identification and Analysis of Attribute-cluster-blocs: A Technique for Use in the Investigation of Behavior in Governance. Univ. of Chicago Press.

Brecht, Arnold 1959 Political Theory: The Foundations of Twentieth-century Political Thought. Princeton Univ. Press.”

Further Reading (Books 2)

“Cairns, Huntington 1935 Law and the Social Sciences. New York: Harcourt.

Cardozo, Benjamin N. (1921)1960 The Nature of the Judicial Process. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press.

Cardozo, Benjamin N. 1924 The Growth of the Law. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press.

Cardozo, Benjamin N. 1928 The Paradoxes of Legal Science. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

Cole, Kenneth C. 1948 The Theory of the State as a Sovereign Juristic Person. American Political Science Review 42:16-31.

Corwin, Edward S. (1919) 1921 John Marshall and the Constitution: A Chronicle of the Supreme Court. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press.

Corwin, Edward S. (1928-1929) 1959 The “Higher Law“Background of American Constitutional Law. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell Univ. Press.

Danelski, David J. 1961 The Influence of the Chief Justice in the Decisional Process. Pages 497-508 in Walter F. Murphy and C. Herman Pritchett (editors), Courts, Judges, and Politics. New York: Random House.

Danelski, David J. 1964 A Supreme Court Justice Is Appointed. New York: Random House.

Essays on the Law and Practice of Governmental Administration: A Volume in Honor of Frank J. Goodnow.Edited by Charles Grove Haines and Marshall E. Dimock. 1935. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.

FAntMAN, Charles 1939 Mr. Justice Miller and the Supreme Court: 1862-1890. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press.

Frank, Jerome (1930) 1949 Law and the Modern Mind. New York: Coward.

Goodnow, Frank J. (1893) 1903 Comparative Administrative Law: An Analysis of the Administrative Systems, National and Local, of the United States, England, France and Germany. 2 vols. New York: Putnam.

Goodnow, Frank J. 1905 The Principles of the Administrative Law of the United States. New York: Putnam.

Goodnow, Frank J. 1911 Social Reform and the Constitution. New York: Macmillan.

Graham, Howard J. 1938 The “Conspiracy Theory“of the Fourteenth Amendment. Yale Law Journal 47: 371-403.”

Further Reading (Articles)

“Grant, J. A. C. 1958 The Viet Nam Constitution of 1956. American Political Science Review 52:437-462.

Grossman, Joel B. 1965 Lawyers and Judges: The ABA and the Politics of Judicial Selection. New York: Wiley.

Haines, Charles Grove 1922 General Observations on the Effects of Personal, Political, and Economic Influences in the Decisions of Judges. Illinois Law Review 17:96-116.

Haines, Charles Grove 1930 The Revival of Natural Law Concepts: A Study of the Establishment and of the Interpretation of Limits on Legislatures With Special Reference to the Development of Certain Phases of American Constitutional Law. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press.

Hart, H. L. A. 1961 The Concept of Law. Oxford: Clarendon.

Hayakawa, Takeo (1962) 1964 Civil Liberties in the Japanese Supreme Court. Pages 325-334 in Glendon A. Schubert (editor), Judicial Behavior: A Reader in Theory and Research. Chicago: Rand McNally. -* A partial reprinting of “Legal Science and Judicial Behavior, With Particular Reference to Civil Liberties in the Japanese Supreme Court,“Number 2, pages 1-27 in the Kobe University Law Review.

Hyneman, Charles S. 1959 The Study of Politics: The Present State of American Political Science. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press.

Jacor, Herbert 1965 Justice in America: Courts, Lawyers, and the Judicial Process. Boston: Little.

Johnson, Richard M. 1965 Separation of Church and State: The Dynamics of Supreme Court Decision-making. Ph.D. dissertation, Univ. of Illinois.

Kelsen, Hans (1945)1961 General Theory of Law and State. New York: Russell.

Kort, Fred 1957 Predicting Supreme Court Decisions Mathematically: A Quantitative Analysis of the “Right to Counsel“Cases. American Political Science Review 51:1-12.

Lasswell, Harold D. 1948 Power and Personality. New York: Norton.”

More Related Articles

“Lasswell, Harold D.; and Mcdougal, Myres S. 1943 Legal Education and Public Policy: Professional Training in the Public Interest. Yale Law Journal 52:203-295.

Latham, Earl (1952) 1965 The Group Basis of Politics: A Study in Basing-point Legislation. New York: Octagon Books.

Llewellyn, Karl N. (1934)1935 The Constitution as an Institution. Pages 277-322 in Legal Essays in Tribute to Orrin Kip McMurray. Edited by Max Radin and A. M. Kidd. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

Mccloskey, Robert G. 1960 The American Supreme Court. Univ. of Chicago Press.

Magrath, C. Peter 1963 Morrison R. Waite: The Triumph of Character. New York: Macmillan.

Mason, Alpheus T. 1956 Harlan Fiske Stone: Pillar of the Law. New York: Viking.

Mendelson, Wallace 1963 The Neo-behavioral Approach to the Judicial Process: A Critique. American Political Science Review 57:593-603.

Merriam, Charles E. 1921 The Present State of the Study of Politics. American Political Science Review 15:173-185.

Merriam, Charles E. 1926 Progress in Political Research. American Political Science Review 20:1—13.

Mitau, Theodore G. 1965 What Has Happened to the Study of State Public Law by Political Scientists? A Note on Achievements and Lacunae in the Study of State Constitutional Law Since 1950. Journal of Public Law 14:90-104.

Mott, Rodney L.; Albright, S. D.; and Semmerling, H. R. 1933 Judicial Personnel. American Academy of Political and Social Science, Annals 167:143-155.

Murphy, Walter F. 1964 Elements of Judicial Strategy. Univ of Chicago Press.

Patric, Gordon 1957 The Impact of a Court Decision: Aftermath of the McCollum Case. Journal of Public Law 6:455-464.” “Peltason, Jack W. 1953 A Political Science of Public Law. Southwestern Social Science Quarterly 34, no. 2:51-56.

Peltason, Jack W. 1955 Federal Courts in the Political Process. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.

Peltason, Jack W. 1961 Fifty-eight Lonely Men: Southern Federal Judges and School Desegregation. Introduction by Paul Douglas. New York: Harcourt.

Powell, Thomas Reed 1918 The Logic and Rhetoric of Constitutional Law. Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 15:645-658.

Pritchett, C. Herman 1941 Divisions of Opinion Among Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court: 1939-1941. American Political Science Review 35:890-898.

Pritchett, C. Herman (1948) 1963 The Roosevelt Court: A Study in Judicial Politics and Values, 1937-1947. New York: Octagon Books.

Pritchett, C. Herman 1954 Civil Liberties and the Vinson Court. Univ. of Chicago Press.

Schubert, Glendon 1958 The Study of Judicial Decision-making as an Aspect of Political Behavior. American Political Science Review 52:1007-1025.

Schubert, Glendon 1963 Behavioral Research in Public Law: Bibliographical Essay. American Political Science Review 57:433-445.

Schubert, Glendon 1965 The Judicial Mind: The Attitudes and Ideologies of Supreme Court Justices, 1946-1963. Evanston, 111.: Northwestern Univ. Press.

Shepard, Max 1939 Law and Obedience. American Political Science Review 33:783-810.

Sherwood, Foster H. 1958 The Role of Public Law in Political Science. Pages 86-96 in Roland Young (editor), Approaches to the Study of Politics. Evanston, 111.: Northwestern Univ. Press.” “Somit, Albert; and Tanenhaus, Joseph 1964 American Political Science: A Profile of a Discipline. New York: Atherton.

Swisher, Carl B. (1935) 1961 Roger B. Taney. Ham-den, Conn.: Shoe String Press.

Swisher, Carl B. (1943) 1954 American Constitutional Development. 2d ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Swisher, Carl B. 1946 Research in Public Law: Report of the Panel on Public Law. American Political Science Review 40:552—562.

Truman, David B. (1951) 1962 The Governmental Process: Political Interests and Public Opinion. New York: Knopf.

Vose, Clement E. 1958 Litigation as a Form of Pressure Group Activity. American Academy of Political and Social Science, Annals 319:20-31.

Vose, Clement E. 1959 Caucasians Only: The Supreme Court, the NAACP, and the Restrictive Covenant Cases. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

Walz, Gustav Adolph 1934 Public Law. Volume 12, pages 657-659 in Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences. New York: Macmillan.

Westin, Alan F. 1958 The Anatomy of a Constitutional Law Case; Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer: The Steel Seizure Decision. New York: Macmillan.

Willoughby, W. W. 1896 An Examination of the Nature of the State: A Study in Political Philosophy. New York: Macmillan.

Willoughby, W. W. 1924 The Fundamental Concepts of Public Law. New York: Macmillan.

Wright, Benjamin F. 1938 The Contract Clause of the Constitution. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press.” “Books And Articles

Amari, Emerico 1857 Critica di una scienza delle legislazioni comparate. Genoa (Italy): Sordomuti.

Beccaria, Cesare Bones An A (1764) 1953 An Essay on Crimes and Punishments. Stanford, Calif.: Academic Reprints. -” First published in Italian under the title Dei delitti e delle pene. A paperback edition was published in 1963 by Bobbs-Merrill.

Berlin, Max-planck-institut Fur Auslandisches Öf-fentliches Recht Und Völkerrecht1962ver-fassungsgerichtsbarkeit in der Gegenwart: Lander-berichte und Rechtsvergleichung; Internationales Kolloquium. Beitrage zum auslandischen offentlichen Recht und Volkerrecht, No. 36. Cologne (Germany): Heymann.

Bowie, Robert R.; and Friedrich, Carl J. (editors) 1954 Studies in Federalism. Boston: Little.

Burgess, John W. (1890-1891) 1902 Political Science and Comparative Constitutional Law. 2 vols. Boston: Ginn. ? Volume 1: Sovereignty and Liberty. Volume 2: Government.

Ehrlich, Ludwik 1921 Comparative Public Law and the Fundamentals of Its Study. Columbia Law Review 21:623-646.

Filangieri, Gaetano (1780-1785)1806 The Science of Legislation. 2 vols. London: Ostell. ? First published as La scienza della legislazione.

Fontana, Giovanni (1938)1954 Introduzione al diritto pubblico comparato. Florence (Italy): CYA.

Friedrich, Carl J. (1937) 1950 Constitutional Government and Democracy: Theory and Practice in Europe and America. Rev. ed. Boston: Ginn. ? First published as Constitutional Government and Politics: Nature and Development.

Gneist, Rudolf (1857-1860) 1871-1884 Das heutige englische Verfassungs- und Verwaltungsrecht. 3 parts, 3d ed. Berlin: Springer. ? Volume 1: Das englische Verwaltungsrecht der Gegenwart in Vergleichung mit den deutschen Verwaltungssystemen, 1883-1884. 2 parts. Volume 2: Self government: Communalverfassung und Verwaltungsgerichte in England, 1871.” “Goodnow, Frank J. (1893) 1903 Comparative Administrative Law: An Analysis of the Administrative Systems, National and Local, of the United States,England, France and Germany. 2 vols. New York: Putnam.

Great Britain, Commissioners On Criminal Law 1834-1845 First—o [Eighth] Report From His Majesty’s Commissioners on Criminal Law. 2 vok. London: Printed by W. Clowes and Sons for His Majesty…. ? See especially the “Fourth Report.”

Gutteridge, Harold C. (1946) 1949 Comparative Law: An Introduction to the Comparative Method of Legal Study and Research. 2d ed. Cambridge Univ. Press.

Hall, Jerome 1963 Comparative Law and Social Theory. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press.

Kaiser, J. H. et al. 1964 Vergleichung im offentlichen Recht. Zeitschrift fiir auslandisches offentliches Recht und Volkerrecht 24:391-471.

Kulz, Helmut R.; and Naumann, Richard (editors) 1963 Staatsbiirger und Staatsgewalt: Verwaltungsrecht und Verwaltungsgerichtsbarkeit in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Vol. 1. Karlsruhe (Germany): Miiller.

Leibniz, Gottfried W. (1667) 1768 Nova methodus discendae docendaeque jurisprudentiae. Volume 4, part 3, pages 169-624 in Gottfried W. Leibniz, Opera omnia. Geneva: Fratres de Tournes.

Linares Quintana, Segundo V. 1953— Tratado de la ciencia del derecho constitucional argentino y com-parado. Vol. 1—. Buenos Aires: Alfa. ? Nine volumes were published as of 1966.

Montesquieu, Charles (1748) 1962 The Spirit of the Laws. 2 vols. New York: Hafner. ? First published in French.

Riesenfeld, Stefan 1938 The French System of Administrative Justice: A Model for America? Boston University Law Review 18:48-82, 400-432, 715-748.

Robertson, William (1769) 1916 The History of the Reign of Emperor Charles the Fifth. 3 vols. Philadelphia: Lippincott.” “Vergleichende Darstellung des deutschen und auslandischen Strafrechts. 16 vols. 1905-1909 Berlin: Liebmann.

Vico, Giovanni Battista (1720) 1858 Dell’unico principio e dell’unico fine del diritto universale. Milan (Italy): Agnelli. ? First published in Latin.

Series And Journals

Harvard University, International Program In TaxationWorld Tax Series. ? Published since 1957.

International and Comparative Law Quarterly. -“Published since 1952. Supersedes the Journal of Comparative Legislation and the International Law Quarterly.

International Bureau Of Fiscal DocumentationPublications. ? Published since 1951. A series of short studies on international and comparative fiscal law.

International Social Security AssociationBulletin. ? Published since 1948.

Jahrbuch des offentlichen Rechts der Gegenwart New Series. ? Published since 1951.

Kritische Zeitschrift fiir Rechtswissenschaft und Gesetzgebung des Auslandes. ? Published between 1829 and 1856.

Revue de droit international et de legislation comparee. ? Published from 1869 to 1940.

Revue du droit public et de la science politique en France et a Vetranger. ? Published since 1894.

Zeitschrift fiir auslandisches offentliches Recht und Volkerrecht. ? Published since 1929.

Zeitschrift fiir vergleichende Rechtswissenschaft. ? Published since 1878.” “Law’s Order: What Economics Has to Do with Law and Why It Matters, The Cato Journal; April 1, 2000; Tabarrok, Alexander
Laws redrafted to fall in with economic shift, China Daily; January 5, 2006; Cai Dingjian
Law School ‘January-Term’ Attracts Top Legal Scholars, US Fed News Service, Including US State News; January 11, 2014
`Law Readers’ Take an Unusual Road to the Va. Bar, The Washington Post; August 10, 1994; Michael D. Shear
Laws on office pools, guns among 600 taking effect, Press-Telegram; December 31, 2009; Tony Castro
Law schools growing, but jobs aren’t, Charleston Daily Mail; June 17, 2008; JUSTIN POPE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Law Librarianship in the Twenty-First Century, Feliciter; March 1, 2008; Quoika-Stanka, Wanda
Law Schools Struggle to Shore Up Appeal as Costs Rise, Jobs Disappear, The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA); October 20, 2013
Law magnets: attracting students to law-related education.(Florida), Florida Bar Journal; January 1, 2000; Higgins, Connie Bethel, Alexis M. Glickman, Sharon Bleier
Law, Ancient Near-Eastern, New Catholic Encyclopedia; January 1, 2003; VAN DER PLOEG, J.
Law for States: International Law, Constitutional Law, Public Law, Harvard Law Review; May 1, 2009; Goldsmith, Jack L. Levinson, Daryl
The Rule of (Administrative) Law in International Law, Law and Contemporary Problems; June 22, 2005; Dyzenhaus, David
Foreign Law Firms Now Allowed In Mauritius.(Law Practitioners Act 1984), Mondaq Business Briefing; June 9, 2008
Law School: A Road to Access, Opportunity, and Empowerment, Diversity Employers; October 1, 2004; Wilcher, Shirley J.
Legal and Law-Related Print/Online Publications and Information Sources, Start-Up or Announced, First Half 2007., Legal Publisher; July 1, 2007
Law reform gets serious, New Straits Times; May 19, 2002; Carolyn Hong

Public Law

Very Short Congressional meaning of Public Law

Designation used for legislation that has been passed by both chambers and signed by the president or enacted over a presidential veto. Private bills become private laws.

Public Law: 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 Public Law. This part provides references, in relation to Public Law, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Public Law 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 Public Law 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 Public Law 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 Public Law 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 Public Law. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Public Law 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 Public Law when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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