Secret law

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Secret law refers to legal authorities that require compliance that are classified or otherwise withheld from the public.[1] Such non-promulgated laws were common in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries.[citation needed] The term has been used in reference to some counterterrorist measures[2] taken by the Bush Administration in the United States following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Patriot Act has been referred to as having secret interpretations.[3]

Secret Law in the United States[edit]

In recent years, the branches of the United States federal government have accused one another of creating secret law. Journalists, scholars, and anti-secrecy activists have also made similar allegations. Scholarly analysis has shown that secret law is present in all three branches. One scholar, Professor Dakota Rudesill, recommends that the country affirmatively decide whether to tolerate secret law, and proposes principles for governing it, including: public law’s supremacy over secret law; no secret criminal law; public notification of creation of secret law; presumptive sunset and publication dates; and availability of all secret law to Congress.[4]


Secret laws and their negative effects are described in Franz Kafka's novel Der Prozess (The Trial).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rudesill, Dakota (2015). "Coming to Terms With Secret Law". Harvard National Security Journal. 7 (1): 249. 
  2. ^ "The Arrival of Secret Law". FAS Project on Government Secrecy. 14 November 2004. Retrieved 7 February 2010. 
  3. ^ Ackerman, Spencer (25 May 2011). "There's a Secret Patriot Act, Senator Says". Wired. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  4. ^ Rudesill, Dakota (2015). "Coming to Terms With Secret Law". Harvard National Security Journal. 7 (1): 241–391.