CITES BY TOPIC:  positive law
Compare with the term special law.

PDF Requirement for Consent, Form #05.003 (OFFSITE LINK)-memorandum of law on the subject of positive law


PDF U.S. Code Positive Law Citations


References to Positive Law in the "Great IRS Hoax" book

  • Section 3.6.5 entitled "Positive Law"
  • Section 5.4.2.2 entitled "Positive Law"
  • Section 5.4.3 entitled "The Internal Revenue Code is Not Public or Positive Law, but Private Law"

1 U.S.C. 204: Codes and Supplements as evidence of the laws of United States and District of Columbia; citation of Codes and Supplements

Lists all Titles of the United States Code that are Positive Law.


House of Representatives: About the Office of Law Revision Counsel and the United States Code

About the Office and the United States Code

The Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives prepares and publishes the United States Code pursuant to section 285b of title 2 of the Code. The Code is a consolidation and codification by subject matter of the general and permanent laws of the United States.

The Code does not include regulations issued by executive branch agencies, decisions of the Federal courts, treaties, or laws enacted by State or local governments. Regulations issued by executive branch agencies are available in the Code of Federal Regulations. Proposed and recently adopted regulations may be found in the Federal Register.

Certain titles of the Code have been enacted into positive law, and pursuant to section 204 of title 1 of the Code, the text of those titles is legal evidence of the law contained in those titles. The other titles of the Code are prima facie evidence of the laws contained in those titles. The following titles of the Code have been enacted into positive law: 1, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 17, 18, 23, 28, 31, 32, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 44, 46, and 49.


GPO Access: About the United States Code

United States Code: About

The United States Code is the codification by subject matter of the general and permanent laws of the United States based on what is printed in the Statutes at Large. It is divided by broad subjects into 50 titles and published by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Since 1926, the United States Code has been published every six years. In between editions, annual cumulative supplements are published in order to present the most current information. Documents are available only as ASCII text files.

GPO Access contains the 2000 and 1994 editions of the U.S. Code, plus annual supplements. At this time, the Statutes at Large is not available on GPO Access.

When a section is affected by a law passed after a supplement's revision date, the header for that section includes a note that identifies the public law affecting it. In order to find the updated information, you must search the public laws databases for the referenced public law number.

The U.S. Code on GPO Access is the official version of the Code, however, two unofficial editions are available. These are the U.S.C.A.(U.S. Code Annotated) and the U.S.C.S. (U.S. Code Service). The U.S.C.A. and U.S.C.S. contain everything that is printed in the official U.S. Code but also include annotations to case law relevant to the particular statute. While these unofficial versions may be more current, they are not official and not available from the U.S. Government Printing Office.

NOTE: Of the 50 titles, only 23 have been enacted into positive (statutory) law. These titles are 1, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 17, 18, 23, 28, 31, 32, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 44, 46, and 49. When a title of the Code was enacted into positive law, the text of the title became legal evidence of the law. Titles that have not been enacted into positive law are only prima facie evidence of the law. In that case, the Statutes at Large still govern.

The U.S. Code does not include regulations issued by executive branch agencies, decisions of the Federal courts, treaties, or laws enacted by State or local governments. Regulations issued by executive branch agencies are available in the Code of Federal Regulations. Proposed and recently adopted regulations may be found in the Federal Register.

[PDF PDF VERSION of the above]


Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 1162

Positive law.  Law actually and specifically enacted or adopted by proper authority for the government of an organized jural society.  See also Legislation.

[Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 1162]


Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 526

Enact. To establish law; to perform or effect; to decree.  The common introductory formula in making statutory laws is, "Be it enacted." See Enacting clause.

[Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 526]


Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 899

Legislation.  The act of giving or enacting laws; the power to make laws; the act of legislating; preparation and enactment of laws; the making of laws via legislation, in contrast to court-made laws.  Formulation of rule for the future.  Laws enacted by lawmaking body (e.g. Congress or state legislature).  Oklahoma City, Okl. v. Dolese, C.C.A.Okl., 48 F.2d 734, 738.  See also Act (Legislative act); Bill; Class legislation; Statute.

[Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 899]


1 U.S.C. 204:  Codes and Supplements as evidence of the laws of United States and District of Columbia; citation of Codes and Supplements

Sec. 204. - Codes and Supplements as evidence of the laws of United States and District of Columbia; citation of Codes and Supplements

In all courts, tribunals, and public offices of the United States, at home or abroad, of the District of Columbia, and of each

State, Territory, or insular possession of the United States -

(a) United States Code. -

The matter set forth in the edition of the Code of Laws of the United States current at any time shall, together with the then current supplement, if any, establish prima facie the laws of the United States, general and permanent in their nature, in force on the day preceding the commencement of the session following the last session the legislation of which is included: Provided, however, That whenever titles of such Code shall have been enacted into positive law the text thereof shall be legal evidence of the laws therein contained, in all the courts of the United States, the several States, and the Territories and insular possessions of the United States.

(b) District of Columbia Code. -

The matter set forth in the edition of the Code of the District of Columbia current at any time shall, together with the then current supplement, if any, establish prima facie the laws, general and permanent in their nature, relating to or in force in the District of Columbia on the day preceding the commencement of the session following the last session the legislation of which is included, except such laws as are of application in the District of Columbia by reason of being laws of the United States general and permanent in their nature.

(c) District of Columbia Code; citation. -

The Code of the District of Columbia may be cited as ''D.C. Code''.

(d) Supplements to Codes; citation. -

Supplements to the Code of Laws of the United States and to the Code of the District of Columbia may be cited, respectively, as ''U.S.C., Sup. '', and ''D.C. Code, Sup. '', the blank in each case being filled with Roman figures denoting the number of the supplement.


Codification of Legislation: Office of the Law Revision Counsel

What Is Positive Law Codification?

Positive law codification is the process of preparing and enacting, one title at a time, a revision and restatement of the general and permanent laws of the United States.

Because many of the general and permanent laws that are required to be incorporated into the United States Code are inconsistent, redundant, and obsolete, the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the House of Representatives has been engaged in a continuing comprehensive project authorized by law to revise and codify, for enactment into positive law, each title of the Code. When this project is completed, all the titles of the Code will be legal evidence of the general and permanent laws and recourse to the numerous volumes of the United States Statutes at Large for this purpose will no longer be necessary.

Positive law codification bills prepared by the Office do not change the meaning or legal effect of a statute being revised and restated. Rather, the purpose is to remove ambiguities, contradictions, and other imperfections from the law.

Current Positive Law Codification Projects of the Office

Title 46, "Shipping" (H.R. 1442)

Title 51, "National and Commercial Space Programs" (H.R. 3039)

Technical Corrections to the U.S. Code (H.R. 866)


U.S. v. Ward, 131 F.3d 335 C.A.3 (N.J.) (1997)

"Thus, there is a clear conflict between the codification and Statutes-at-Large version of the Act. It is evident that even though the codified version of the amendments contains no "subsection (a)," the italicized part of the Statutes-at-Large version identifies the "offense" referred to in subsection 14011(b)(1). The codified version of legislation is prima facie evidence of the laws of the United States unless Congress has enacted the particular title into positive law. 1 U.S.C. 204(a) (1995). "[T]he very meaning of `prima facie' is that the Code cannot prevail over the Statutes at Large when the two are inconsistent." Stephan v. United States , 319 U.S. 423, 426 (1943). Congress has not enacted Title 42 into positive law. When there is such a conflict, the version in the Statutes at Large, i.e., the one which appears at 108 Stat. 1796, 1946-50, must control. See , e.g. , American Bank & Trust Co. v. Dallas County , 463 U.S. 855, 864 n.8 (1983) ("the Statutes at Large prevail over the Code whenever the two are inconsistent") (citations omitted); United States v. Walden , 377 U.S. 95, 98-99 n.4 (1963) (" `the Code cannot prevail over the Statutes at Large when the two are inconsistent' ") (quoting Stephan , 319 U.S. at 426 ); see also United States Nat'l Bank of Oregon v. Independent Ins. Agents of Am., Inc. , 508 U.S. 439, 448 (1993).FN3 The error in the codified version of the Act was not the fault of Congress, but of the codifiers. Thus, the Act gave the district court authority to order the accused to undergo a blood test if the showing prescribed in 42 U.S.C. 14011(b) was made."

FN3. Accord Time Warner Cable v. Doyle, 66 F.3d 867, 878 n. 11 (7th Cir.1995), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1141, 116 S.Ct. 974, 133 L.Ed.2d 894 (1996); Time Warner Entertainment Co., LP v. FCC, 56 F.3d 151, 193 n. 12 (D.C.Cir.1995), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 116 S.Ct. 911, 133 L.Ed.2d 842 (1996); Preston v. Heckler, 734 F.2d 1359, 1368 (9th Cir.1984).

[U.S. v. Ward, 131 F.3d 335 C.A.3 (N.J.) (1997)]


Spirit of Laws, Book I, Section 3: Of Positive Laws


Ryan v. Billby, 764 F.2d 1325, 1328

Says IRC is still "law", even though not enacted into positive law.

[Ryan v. Billby, 764 F.2d 1325, 1328]