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What's the difference between an act, a statute and a law?

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There's no cut and dried answer, but a good way to think about it is this: • Act: a bill passed by both houses of Congress that has become law. Acts can be published as Slip Laws or "newly enacted legislation"; see Publishing the Law. Acts aren't published together, but individually. Once published in Statutes at Large, they're the same as a statute. • Statute: A law enacted by a legislature. "Statute" and "session law" can be used interchangably. Statutes are published in United States Statutes at Large; see Publishing the Law. However, Statutes at Large isn't cumulative - each volume represents a particular legislative session. • Note: Because electronic access to laws allows for immediate updates to the Statutes at Large, the forgoing distinction will eventually not be necessary and is already pretty blurry. • Law: The body of rules and principles governing the affairs of a community. Laws would appear in the U.S. Code; see Publishing the Law. Unlike Statutes at Large, a law stays ... more
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