Our firm spends a lot of time dealing with federal law and federal regulations which impact our clients and cases we handle. The Washington Post’s Volokh Conspiracy legal blog recently posted a fascinating piece on why the United States Code is not generally the law of the land. It is prima facie evidence of the law, but it isn’t the law itself.
Here’s an excerpt:
“The Code is–no disrespect intended–a Frankenstein’s monster of session laws. The Code is made by taking the session laws, hacking them to pieces, rearranging them, and stitching them back together in a way that gives them false life. Many pieces are altered, and many others are thrown away. The result is something like a Cliffs Notes guide to the real law. That is all the Code is, and that is all it is supposed to be.”
The good news is that the U.S. Code is nonetheless a pretty accurate guide to the law, so most of the time the differences don’t matter much. But every once in a while, they sure do.