Q: How does the U.S. Constitution or a state constitution differ from other sources of law?
I assume what you are asking is what is the difference between a constitution and statutory law. If so, the answer is rather straightforward. A constitution is a grant of authority from the people to its government. A constitution lays out the structure, powers, and limits on government. For example, the US Constitution creates three branches of government --Congress, the President and the Courts. Article 1 section 8 of the Constitution says what Congress can write laws about, and the Bill of Rights places explicit limits on government action.
By contrast, statutes are rules or regulations passed pursuant to constitutional authority. For example, the US Constitution gives Congress authority to create a post office. Congress may thus pass a statute that creates a post office in Chicago and a law that determines how much will be spent on the post office etc. If a statute is contrary to the Constitution it is void.
You might also be interested in the following article which outlines the differences between the California Constitution and The United States Constituion
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