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A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a country, state, city, or county. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy.


The word is often used to distinguish law made by legislative bodies from case law and the regulations issued by government agencies. Statutes are sometimes referred to as legislation or "black letter law". As a source of law, statutes are considered primary authority (as opposed to secondary authority).


The public law (Pub. L.) and U.S. Statutes at Large (Stat.) citations refer to the original law to which the popular name currently applies. Laws enacted before 1957 generally do not have public law numbers but chapter numbers (Ch.) instead. U.S. Code (U.S.C.) citations refer to the codified law, including any amendments.[1]


  1. For more information about citation forms, see Law Library of Congress, Federal Statutes (Apr. 4, 2011) (full-text). More complete cross-references of public laws to corresponding provisions of U.S. Code can be found in classification tables (see, e.g, U.S. House of Representatives, Office of the Law Revision Counsel, U.S. Code Classification Tables (2011) (full-text).


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