State – a system of relations by which jurisdiction and authority are devised and maintained by a community of politically organized people aiming to secure the prevalence of justice via self-imposed law

    This page is continued from Law >>>> Litigation Terms for Types of Persons >>>> Types of Parties >>>> Artificial Persons >>>>

Note:  This page primarily deals the with body politic known as a state (noun) — not the adjective, as in:


1. Pertaining to a State of the United States.

2. Pertaining to government generally. [1]

n. (16c)

l. The political system of a body of people who are politically organized; the system of rules by which jurisdiction and authority are exercised over such a body of people. <separation of church and state>. — aka political society; nonsovereign statedependent state.  Cf. NATION. [2]

1. A body politic or society of women and men united for the purpose of promoting their mutual safety through their combined strength, occupying a definite territory, and organized under one government; people, territory, and government considered in combination; a nation.  
     See sovereign state.

2. A state of the United States. [1]

1. A body politic or society of men united together for the purpose of promoting their mutual safety and advantage by their combined strength, occupying a definite territory, and politically organized under one government.  McLaughlin y Poucher, 127 Conn 441, 17 A2d 767.

People, territory, and government considered in combination. Texas v White (US) 7 Wall 700, 19 L Ed 227, ovrld on other grounds 113 US 476, 28 L Ed 1044, 5 S Ct 588.

A complete body of free persons united together for their common benefit, to enjoy peaceably what is their own, and to do justice to others.  Chisholm v Georgia (US) 2 Dall 419, 1 L Ed 440.

Under the United States Constitution: — a political community of free citizens, occupying a territory of defined boundaries, and organized under a government sanction and limited by a written constitution, and established by the consent of the governed. Coyle v Smith, 221 US 559, 55 L Ed 853, 31 S Ct 688.

For the purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act, any state of the United States, the District of Columbia, or any territory or possession of the United States, 29 USC §203(c).
     See sovereign state. [3]

     Excerpt from Theodore D. Woolsey’s Introduction to the Study of International Law (5th ed. 1878):

     “A STATE is a community of persons living within certain limits of territory, under a permanent organization which aims to secure the prevalence of justice by self-imposed law.  The organ of the state by which its relations with other states are managed is the government. [2]

     Excerpt from John Salmond’s Jurisprudence (Glanville L. Williams ed., 10th ed. 1947):

     “A state or political society is an association of human beings established for the attainment of certain ends by certain means.  It is the most important of all the various kinds of society in which men unite, being indeed the necessary basis and condition of peace, order, and civilization.  What then is the difference between this and other forms of association?  In what does the state differ from such other societies as a church, a university, a joint-stock company, or a trade union?  The difference is clearly one of function.  The state must be defined by reference to such of its activities and purposes as are essential and characteristic. [4]

     Excerpt from J.L. Brierly’s The Law of Nations (5th ed. 1955):

     “A state is an institution, that is to say, it is a system of relations which men establish among themselves as a means of securing certain objects, of which the most fundamental is a system of order within which their activities can be carried on.  Modern states are territorial; their governments exercise control over persons and things within their frontiers, and today the whole of the habitable world is divided between about seventy of these territorial states.  A state should not be confuse with the whole community of persons living on its territory; it is only one among a multitude of other institutions, such as churches and corporations, which a community establishes for securing different objects, though obviously it is one of tremendous importance; none the less it is not, except in the ideology of totalitarianism, an all-embracing institution, not something from which, or within which, all other institutions and associations have their being; many institutions, e.g. the Roman Catholic Church, an many associations, e.g. federations of employers and of workers, transcend the boundaries of any single state. [5]

state law:

1. A body of law in a particular state consisting of the state’s constitution, statutes, regulations, and common law.

State Law Consists of Two Parts:

   Excerpt from Edwin E. Bryant’s The Law of Pleading Under the Codes of Civil Procedure (2d ed. 1899):

     “The body of law in a State consists of two parts, substantive and adjective law.  The former prescribes those rules of civil conduct which declare the rights and duties of all who are subject to the law.  The latter relates to the remedial agencies and procedure by which rights are maintained their invasion redressed, and the methods by which such results are accomplished in judicial tribunals. [6]

Adjective Law – the body of rules governing procedure and practice (“procedural law”).

Substantive Law – creates, defines, and regulates the rights, duties, and powers of parties. [1]

Political Status of States:

Client State – a country that is obliged to cede some control of its external relations to some foreign power or powers.

Code State – a state that has procedurally merged law and equity into one system, and having only one form of civil action.

Composite State – a state that comprises an aggregate or group of constituent states.

  • Federal State – wherein the sovereignty of the entire state is divided between the central or federal government and the local governments of the several constituent states, and the external international relations of all member states is handled by the central government.
  • Imperial State – a composite state wherein the central government possesses sovereignty from and over the states.

Failed State – has lost of physical control of its territory, ability to provide reasonable public services, &/or having an erosion of legitimate authority.

Free State – a political community organized independently of all others.

Microstate – consists of a small territory and a small population and that is recognized as a state for international-law purposes.

Terms for a State Located along a Coast:

Coastal State – a country that borders on an ocean or sea.

Littoral State – a state that has a coast. [2]

state agency. A department, commission, board, committee, or body of any form operating as an instrumentality of the state government. [3]

p nonsovereign state. (1896) A state that is a constituent part of a greater state that includes both it and one or more others, and to whose government it is subject; a state that is not complete and self-existent. 0 Among other things, a nonsovereign state has no power to engage in foreign relations. -Also termed dependent state. Cf. SOVEREIGN STATE.

> part-sovereign state. See SOVEREIGN STATE.

b police state. (1851) A state in which the political, economic, and social life of its citizens is subject to represswe governmental control and arbitrary uses of

power by the ruling elite, which uses the police as the instrument of control; a totalitarian state.

> receiving state. (17c) The country to which a diplomatic agent or consul is sent by the country represented by that agent. Cf. sending state.

b satellite state. See client state.

» sending state. (1920) The country from which a diplomatic agent or consul is sent abroad. Cf. receiving state.

a» simple state. See unitary state.

b social-service state. (1931) A state that uses its power to create laws and regulations to provide for the welfare

of its citizens. > sovereign state. See SOVEREIGN STATE.

p unitary state. (1853) A state that is not made up of territorial divisions that are states themselves. -Also termed (archaically) simple state.

2. An institution of self-government within a larger political entity; esp., one of the constituent parts of a country having a federal government <the 50 states>. 3. (often cap.) The people of a state, collectively considered as the party wronged by a criminal deed; eSp., the prosecution as the representative of the people <the State rests its case>.

state account system. (1889) Criminal law. A prison disciplinary system in which prison industries are run either by a proprietor or by the state itself, the prisoners furnishing the labor; specif., a convict~labor system in which prisoners work in factories or prison facilities with state-supplied raw materials and the government sells the products in the open market. –Also termed public account system. Cf. STATE-USE SYSTEM.

state action. (1893) Anything done by a government; eSp., in constitutional law, an intrusion on a person’s rights esp. cnnl rights) either by a governmental entity or by [2]


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[1]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition by Jack Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[2]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[3]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[4]: Theodore D. Woolsey, Introduction to the Study of International Law § 36, at 34 (5th ed. 1878).

[5]: John Salmond, Jurisprudence 129 (Glanville L. Williams ed., 10th ed. 1947).

[6]: J.L. Brierly, The Law of Nations 118 (5th ed. 1955).

[7]: Edwin E. Bryant, The Law of Pleading Under the Codes of Civil Procedure (2d ed. 1899).


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