Congressional leaders are voted into office through general elections. For this reason, legislation is heavily impacted by social movements and public opinion. Lobbyists, citizens, religious leaders, or interest groups attempt to sway congressional votes on bills. Any number of current events, ideological shifts, demographic trends, or other movements may help or hinder the passage of certain bills in Congress. Likewise, bills passed by Congress may institute sweeping changes in public policy. Understanding the complicated nature of the legislative process and its impact on policy shifts and trends will help you become a more astute legal researcher in the area of statutory law.
Statutory research is the process of finding statutory law that answers a legal question. In past years, the role of statutory law in a legal researcher’s work was frequently overshadowed by case law and appellate decisions. However, as legislatures become more active in law making, their statutes add considerable legal authority and potential research material to existing case law and common law principles. Today, it is common for appellate decisions to involve the application of statutes.