Quiz 1: The Nature and Sources of Law

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The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) in short is a law that protects college student's right to privacy of their academic records, unless they chosen to disclose (e.g. sending transcripts when applying for graduate school). A duty is a legal requirement of performing or refraining from certain actions. In this case the duty to keep student's record confidential. A right is an expectation of certain performance protected by law. In this case the student's right to privacy.

The main sources of the law in the US are the Constitution, Statutes and Regulations, Case Law , and Common Law. The Constitution is a document that broadly outlines role of the government and rights of the people, e.g. free speech. Statutes and Regulations are law enacted at the federal, state, or local level, e.g. no parking on certain marked areas. Case Law are previous court rulings that have legal effects such as Brown v Board of Ed which makes it illegal for segregating schools. Some statutes codify case laws to reinforce or amend it. The common law are historical court decisions and procedures that are adopted but may be unwritten, e.g. torts which allow people to sue for recovery of damages caused by others.

The statutory law are written laws whereas common law are based on prior court decisions ( case law) which have legal binding. In the US federal, state, and local agencies issues written statutes and regulation which become part of statutory law. Common law are prior case decisions in a prior ruling which are generally followed unless it is pre-empted by new government statutes, or judge finds significant difference in the current case.

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