Statute

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A statute is a law enacted by a legislature.  Statutes are also called acts, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  Federal laws must be passed by both houses of Congress, the House of Representative and the Senate, and then usually require approval from the president before they can take effect. 

As explained by the Library of Congress, enacted federal statutes are published multiple times.  First, each individual law is published as a “slip law.”  Then, all of the slip laws for each session of Congress are published together as “session laws.”  Finally, all laws that are of a “general and permanent nature” are eventually compiled into the United States Code, and also the Revised Statutes of the United States. 

State statutes can be found through this list.  Readers can also attempt to find state statutes organized by topic here.  

Last updated in May of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team.