District of Columbia residents are subject to District of Columbia and U.S. federal laws. Federal laws apply in the District of Columbia as they do across the rest of the U.S. In addition to the U.S. Constitution, which is the supreme law of the U.S., federal laws include statutes that are periodically codified in the U.S. Code. Federal laws also include decisions by courts that interpret federal laws. Finally, federal laws include regulations issued by federal administrative agencies to implement federal laws. You can explore federal laws and related resources by visiting the federal law section of the Justia site.
The District of Columbia is not a state and does not have its own constitution. However, it has other sources of laws. District of Columbia laws include laws that are passed by the Council of the District of Columbia and periodically codified in the District of Columbia Code, as well as decisions by courts that interpret District of Columbia laws.
Under the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Congress holds exclusive jurisdiction over the District of Columbia, even though the District does not have representatives in Congress. However, the Home Rule Act of 1973 created a local government for the District. This consists of a mayor and an elected council with 13 members. Working with Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, the Council passes laws and ordinances within the restrictions provided by the Home Rule Act. The U.S. Congress must approve all legislation passed by the Council before it takes effect.
The provisions in the District of Columbia Code are often interpreted by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which is the only appellate court in the District. The federal District of Columbia District Court also issues decisions that may affect District of Columbia residents. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals holds the authority to review decisions by the District of Columbia District Court. Sometimes the U.S. Supreme Court may review a case that has been appealed from the D.C. Circuit or from the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.