Articles Tagged with Positive law

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It’s not easy to find a simple online explanation of the difference between Official and Unofficial sources of law. My explanation may fill in that gap – or not, depending on your specific question. (And a blog post this long can hardly be called “simple,” but such is life — and law.)

1) In a nutshell, an official source is a source that has been authorized by an official body, such as a court or a legislature. In Oregon, for example, we have the official statutes of Oregon, published in the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS), by the Oregon Legislature, through Legislative Counsel. (This official statutory compilation should not be confused with Oregon Laws, which is the official session law compilation.)

2) We also have in Oregon, as do many states, an unofficial statutory compilation, the Oregon Revised Statutes Annotated, which is published by Thomson-Reuters (West Group).

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KCLL Klues posted this Positive Law and other U.S. Code Mysteries a little while ago and it reminded me that some of my own readers are new to legal research and also curious about such things. What IS positive law anyway?

No, positive law isn’t law in your favor, but that’s not a bad guess. Nor is it law that says, “yup, it’s yours, all yours, and you can do what you want as long as you don’t scare the horses,” rather than those pesky “thou shalt NOT” laws. It’s also not the opposite of negative law!

(Just as “legal” isn’t really the opposite of “illegal” though we’ve come to accept it that way. It’s all legal on this legal research blog, and it’s all lawful too, but not all legal blogs behave lawfully.)