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Administrative Law

Administrative Decisions

Agencies have quasi-judicial powers and the enacting legislation defines the breath of their authority.  The standard process is that there is an Agency ruling which can then be appealed within the agency, either to an Administrative Law Judge or a special court created by the agency, like the U.S. Tax Court.  The appeals process can vary by agency and agency rulings can apply just to individuals or can make binding precedent.

Administrative decisions are usually found on agency websites or GovInfo, but they can also be found in commercial databases like Westlaw, Lexis and Hein Online’s U.S. Federal Agency Library, loose-leaf publications or a  freely available agency focused website like the one produced by the University of Virginia.  

Presidential Documents

The Powers of the President  

The President of the United States has the power to do many things and the exercise of these powers generates documents which can be important in legal research endeavors.  Presidential powers include nominations, cabinet and agency appointments, foreign affairs and military matters, presidential pardons, executive orders, proclamations and administrative orders and the power to veto legislation.

Executive Orders and Proclamations

Executive orders have the effect of law and relate to the conduct of government business or organization of agencies.  Executive order authority is both constitutional and legislative.  They may establish new agencies, new government policies, deal with labor problems and workplace environment, national security and research grants.  They may amend or direct changes in agency manuals and policies may create new agency administrative positions.  Presidential Proclamations have legal force and effect and have the power to grant pardons and clemency, new tariff and trade schedules and declare new holidays.

Where can I find Presidential Documents?

Presidential documents are compiled each year in Title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations.  Flipping through one is an easy and interesting way to see many of the things a president has been up to over the course of the previous year.  You can also access Presidential Documents on GovInfo, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website,, Statutes at Large and USCCAN, Hein Online’s U.S. Presidential Library, the University of California’s American Presidency Project, and the current administration’s website located at