Glossary
Chapter 1
stare decisis A common law doctrine under which judges are obligated to follow the precedents established in prior decisions.
adjudicate To render a judicial decision. In the administrative process, adjudication is the trial-like proceeding in which an administrative law judge hears and decides issues that arise when an administrative agency charges a person or a firm with violating a law or regulation enforced by the agency.
administrative agency A federal or state government agency established to perform a specific function. Administrative agencies are authorized by legislative acts to make and enforce rules in order to administer and enforce the acts.
administrative law The body of law created by administrative agencies (in the form of rules, regulations, orders, and decisions) in order to carry out their duties and responsibilities.
administrative law judge (ALJ) One who presides over an administrative agency hearing and has the power to administer oaths, take testimony, rule on questions of evidence, and make determinations of fact.
administrative process The procedure used by administrative agencies in the administration of law.
Bill of Rights The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
binding authority Any source of law that a court must follow when deciding a case. Binding authorities include constitutions, statutes, and regulations that govern the issue being decided, as well as court decisions that are controlling precedents within the jurisdiction.
case law The rules of law announced in court decisions. Case law includes the aggregate of reported cases that interpret judicial precedents, statutes, regulations, and constitutional provisions.
citation A reference to a publication in which a legal authority—such as a statute or a court decision—or other source can be found.
civil law The branch of law dealing with the definition and enforcement of all private or public rights, as opposed to criminal matters.
civil law system A system of law derived from that of the Roman Empire and based on a code rather than case law; the predominant system of law in the nations of continental Europe and the nations that were once their colonies. In the United States, Louisiana, because of its historical ties to France, has, in part, a civil law system.
commerce clause The provision in Article I, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution that gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce.
common law The body of law developed from custom or judicial decisions in English and U.S. courts, not attributable to a legislature.
constitutional law The body of law derived from the U.S. Constitution and the constitutions of the various states.
criminal law Law that defines and governs actions that constitute crimes. Generally, criminal law has to do with wrongful actions committed against society for which society demands redress.
cyberlaw An informal term used to refer to all laws governing electronic communications and transactions, particularly those conducted via the Internet.
defendant One against whom a lawsuit is brought; the accused person in a criminal proceeding.
due process clause The provisions in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution that guarantee that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Similar clauses are found in most state constitutions.
enabling legislation A statute enacted by Congress that authorizes the creation of an administrative agency and specifies the name, composition, purpose, and powers of the agency being created.
equal protection clause The provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution that guarantees that no state will “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” This clause mandates that the state governments must treat similarly situated individuals in a similar manner.
equitable principles and maxims General propositions or principles of law that have to do with fairness (equity).
establishment clause The provision in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prohibits the government from establishing any state-sponsored religion or enacting any law that promotes religion or favors one religion over another.
executive agency An administrative agency within the executive branch of government. At the federal level, executive agencies are those within the cabinet departments.
federal form of government A system of government in which the states form a union and the sovereign power is divided between the central government and the member states.
filtering software A computer program that is designed to block access to certain Web sites based on their content. The software prevents the retrieval of a site whose URL or key words are on a list within the program.
free exercise clause The provision in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prohibits the government from interfering with people’s religious practices or forms of worship.
independent regulatory agency An administrative agency that is not considered part of the government’s executive branch and is not subject to the authority of the president. Independent agency officials cannot be removed without cause.
international law The law that governs relations among nations. National laws, customs, treaties, and international conferences and organizations are generally considered to be the most important sources of international law.
jurisprudence The science or philosophy of law.
law A body of enforceable rules governing relationships among individuals and between individuals and their society.
national law Law that pertains to a particular nation (as opposed to international law).
ordinance A regulation enacted by a city or county legislative body that becomes part of that state’s statutory law.
persuasive authority Any legal authority or source of law that a court may look to for guidance but on which it need not rely in making its decision. Persuasive authorities include cases from other jurisdictions and secondary sources of law.
plaintiff One who initiates a lawsuit.
police powers Powers possessed by the states as part of their inherent sovereignty. These powers may be exercised to protect or promote the public order, health, safety, morals, and general welfare.
precedent A court decision that furnishes an example or authority for deciding subsequent cases involving identical or similar facts.
preemption A doctrine under which certain federal laws preempt, or take precedence over, conflicting state or local laws.
primary source of law A document that establishes the law on a particular issue, such as a constitution, a statute, an administrative rule, or a court decision.
procedural law Law that establishes the methods of enforcing the rights established by substantive law.
remedy The relief given to an innocent party to enforce a right or compensate for the violation of a right.
rulemaking The process undertaken by an administrative agency when formally adopting a new regulation or amending an old one. Rulemaking involves notifying the public of a proposed rule or change and receiving and considering the public’s comments.
secondary source of law A publication that summarizes or interprets the law, such as a legal encyclopedia, a legal treatise, or an article in a law review.
statute of limitations A federal or state statute setting the maximum time period during which a certain action can be brought or certain rights enforced.
statutory law The body of law enacted by legislative bodies (as opposed to constitutional law, administrative law, or case law).
substantive law Law that defines, describes, regulates, and creates legal rights and obligations.
supremacy clause The provision in Article VI of the Constitution that provides that the Constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States are “the supreme Law of the Land.” Under this clause, state and local laws that directly conflict with federal law will be rendered invalid.
symbolic speech Nonverbal expressions of beliefs. Symbolic speech, which includes gestures, movements, and articles of clothing, is given substantial protection by the courts.
uniform law A model law created by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and/or the American Law Institute for the states to consider adopting. If the state adopts the law, it becomes statutory law in that state. Each state has the option of adopting or rejecting all or part of a uniform law.