Sociology Index


Statutes are laws enacted by a sovereign law-making body such as a provincial legislature or the House of Commons. A statute is a formal enactment of a legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city, state, or country by way of consent. Statutes command or prohibit something, or declare some policy. Statutes are distinguished from case law or precedent, which is decided by courts, and regulations issued by government agencies.

United States Statutes At Large
A year or so after the conclusion of each session of Congress, the slip laws are republished in collected form as a new Volume of the United States Statutes at Large, which also includes Private Laws, Concurrent Resolutions passed by Congress, Presidential Proclamations and various lists and indexes. Corrections and other edits may be made to the slip law versions before the laws are republished in the bound editions of the Statutes.

Statutes in Court: The History and Theory of Statutory Interpretation by William D. Popkin, Stephen R. Alton.


The Archivist of the United States is directed to publish the Statutes for each session of Congress: "The United States Statutes at Large shall be legal evidence of laws, concurrent resolutions, treaties, proclamations by the President, and proposed or ratified amendments to the Constitution of the United States therein contained, in all the courts of the United States, the several States, and the Territories and insular possessions of the United States." (1 U.S.C. 112; ch. 388, Public Law 278, 61 Stat. 636).

In 1845 Little, Brown, and Company was hired by Congress to publish The United States Statutes at Large, for the first time collecting and publishing all laws ever passed by Congress, whether repealed or then obsolete, and in chronological order. Little, Brown continued this practice until 1873. Later, the U.S. Government Printing Office published what amounted to session laws in pamphlet form for Congress, later republishing these pamphlets in bound editions, now found in Volumes 18-49.