That which is laid down, ordained, or established. A rule or method according to which phenomena or actions co-exist or follow each other. Law, in its generic sense, is a body of rules of action or conduct prescribed by controlling authority, and having binding legal force. United States Fidelity and Guaranty Co. v. Guenther, 281 U.S. 34, 50 S.Ct. 165, 74 L.Ed. 683.
That which must be obeyed and followed by citizens subject to sanctions or legal consequences is a law.
Law is a solemn expression of the will of the supreme power of the State. Calif.Civil Code, No. 22. The "law" of a state is to be found in its statutory and constitutional enactments, as interpreted by its courts, and, in absence of statute law, in rulings of its courts. Dauer's Estate v. Zabel, 9 Mich.App. 176, 156 N.W.2d 34, 37.
Word "law" generally contemplates both statutory and case law. Matter of Estate of Perlberg, Tenn.App., 694 S.W.2d 304, 308.
In old English jurisprudence, "law" is used to signify an oath, or the privilege of being sworn; as in the phrases "to wage one's law," "to lose one's law." The term is also used in opposition to "fact." Thus questions of law are to be decided by the court, while it is the province of the jury to resolve questions of fact. The word may mean or embrace: body of principles, standards and rules promulgated by government, State ex rel. Conway v. Superior Court within and for Greenlee County, 60 Ariz. 69, 131 P.2d 983, 986;
command which obliges a person or persons and obliges generally to acts or forbearances of a class; constitution or constitutional provision. Wickham v. Grand River Dam Authority, 189 Okl. 540, 118 P.2d 640, 643; county ordinance, People v. Ziady, 8 Cal.2d 149, 64 P.2d 425, 430;
distinct and complete act of positive law; doctrine or procedure of the common law, from which equity is a departure; enrolled bill attested by presiding officers of two branches of General Assembly, Shannon v. Dean, 279 Ky. 279, 130 S.W.2d 812, 815;
general rule of human action, taking cognizance only of external acts, enforced by a determinate authority, which authority is human, and among human authorities is that which is paramount in a political society; grant by Legislature, City of Los Angeles v. Pacific Land Corporation, 41 Cal.App.2d 223, 106 P.2d 242, 244; administrative agency rules and regulations, Columbia Broadcasting System v. United States, 316 U.S. 407, 62 S.Ct. 1194, 1200, 86 L.Ed. 1563;
judicial decisions, judgments or decrees, West v. American Telephone & Telegraph Co., 311 U.S. 223, 61 S.Ct. 179, 183, 85 L.Ed. 139;
law of the state; legislation by initiative method, Opinion of the Justices, 309 Mass. 676, 35 N.E.2d 676, 680;
local rules of decision, National Fruit Product Co. v. Dwinell-Wright Co., D.C.Mass., 47 F.Supp. 499, 502; long-established local custom which has the force of law, Dubois v. Hepburn, 35 U.S. (10 Pet.) 1, 9 L.Ed. 325; Bush v. Brenner, D.C.Minn., 29 F.2d 844, 845;
municipal ordinance; prescribed rules of action or conduct, U. S. Fidelity & Guaranty Co. v. Guenther, 281 U.S. 34, 50 S.Ct. 165, 166, 74 L.Ed. 683; proclamation of Governor, Williams v. State, 146 Tex.Cr.R. 430, 176 S.W.2d 177, 184; resolution passed by Legislature and approved by Governor, City of Bangor v. Inhabitants of Etna, 140 Me. 85, 34 A.2d 205, 208; revised statutes, W. R. McCullough Life Ins. Co. v. Armstrong, Tex.Civ.App., 158 S.W.2d 585, 586; rule of civil conduct commanding what is right and prohibiting what is wrong, City of Bangor v. Inhabitants of Etna, 140 Me. 85, 34 A.2d 205, 208; rule of civil conduct prescribed by the supreme power in a state, City of Bangor v. Inhabitants of Etna, 140 Me. 85, 34 A.2d 205, 208; rule of conduct prescribed by lawmaking power of state, Board of Education of Union Free School Dist. No. Six of Town of Greenburgh v. Town of Greenburgh, 277 N.Y. 193, 13 N.E.2d 768, 770; rules of court, State ex rel. Conway v. Superior Court within and for Greenlee County, 60 Ariz. 69, 131 P.2d 983, 986; rules of decision commonly accepted and acted upon by bar and inferior courts, West v. American Telephone & Telegraph Co., Ohio, 311 U.S. 223, 61 S.Ct. 179, 183, 85 L.Ed. 139; rules promulgated by government, State ex rel. Conway v. Superior Court within and for Greenlee County, 60 Ariz. 69, 131 P.2d 983, 986; science or system of principles or rules of human conduct, Secretary of the Treasury regulations, In re Deyo's Estate, 180 Misc. 32, 42 N.Y.S.2d 379, 386; statute laws as construed by highest courts of state, National City Bank v. National Sec. Co., C.C.A. Tenn., 58 F.2d 7, 9; statute or enactment of legislative body, State ex rel. McKittrick v. Missouri Public Service Commission, 252 Mo. 29, 175 S.W.2d 857, 861; United States law, U. S. v. Wagner, C.C.A.Cal., 93 F.2d 77, 79; War Department regulations, Standard Oil Co. of California v. Johnson, Cal., 316 U.S. 481, 62 S.Ct. 1168, 1169, 86 L.Ed. 1611. A concurrent or joint resolution of legislature is not "a law", Koenig v. Flynn, 258 N.Y. 292, 179 N.E. 705, 707; Ward v. State, 176 Okl. 368, 56 P.2d 136, 137; a resolution of the house of representatives is not a "law", State ex rel. Todd v. Yelle, 7 Wash.2d 443, 110 P.2d 162, 165; an unconstitutional statute is not a "law", Flournoy v. First Nat. Bank of Shreveport, 197 La. 1067, 3 So.2d 244, 248. With reference to its origin, "law" is derived either from judicial precedents, from legislation, or from custom.
As to the different kinds of law, or law regarded in its different aspects, see:
- conflicts of laws;
- custom and usage;
- evidence, law of;
- maritime law;
- marque, law of;
- moral law;
- municipal law;
- parliamentary law;
- penal laws;
- positive law;
- private law;
- remedial laws and statutes;
- war;
For "facts" and "law" as distinguishable, see fact.
For practice of law, see practice

Black's law dictionary. . 1990.


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