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EC115 Legal Environment of Business: Case Law

Guide to aid with the U.S. legal system and courts along with the role of law in business and personal decision-making.

Case Law

Case Law :

Part of common law, consisting of judgments given by higher (appellate) courts in interpreting the statutes (or the provisions of a constitution) applicable in cases brought before them. Called precedents, they are binding on all courts (within the same jurisdiction) to be followed as the law in similar cases. (from What is case law?-
Stare decisis, (Latin for “let the decision stand”), is the principle by which judges are bound to past decisions.
These judicial interpretations are distinguished from statutory law, which are codes enacted by legislative bodies, and regulatory law, which are established by executive agencies based on statutes.

Important Case and Law examples

Texas v. Johnson

    The Supreme Court case
Texas v. Johnson

(1989), extended the
First Amendment rights
to protect symbolic speech.

     During a political demonstration for the Republican National Convention in Texas, Gregory Lee Johnson set the American flag on fire. No one was injured or in immediate danger by his demonstration, but many witnesses were offended and Johnson was charged and convicted for desecration of a venerated object.

     The Supreme Court overruled the Texas Penal Code violation, and decided Johnson’s demonstration was a form of symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment.

Matthew Shepard
James Byrd, Jr.
Hate Crimes
Prevention Act

     The Matthew Shepard and
James Byrd, Jr.

Hate Crimes Prevention Act

(commonly called the Hate Crimes Act
or Matthew Shepard Act),
was passed in October 2009.

    The law was enacted in response to two brutal bias-motivated crimes. Matthew Shepard was tortured and killed because the killers believed he was gay. James Byrd, Jr., an African American man, was dragged behind a truck and eventually decapitated by white supremacists.

     Federal authorities were unable to prosecute either of these horrendous crimes under existing law. This Act expanded the 1969 Federal Hate Crime Law to cover these and other types of brutal murders.

This site is hosted by the Human Rights Campaign, "the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization" working to ensured basic equal rights to LGBTQ people.


Online Reference

American law yearbook

Annual supplements to the (Gale) Encyclopedia of American Law; includes

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • Law
  • Federal and national government
  • Courts

A Dictionary of Law - Oxford reference book

Reference Sources on 2nd Floor

Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations

- 2nd Floor Reference
- KF246 .P73 1997
Black's Law Dictionary 

- 2nd Floor Reference
- KF156 .B53 2009