For an analysis of the role of law in the administration of government, see administrative law. For an exposition of social restrictions and their enforcement, see censorship; crime and punishment; and police. For a description of the legal aspects of war and the military, see war, law of. For international aspects of law, see international law; and United Nations. Public law concerns government and society, including constitutional law, administrative law, and criminal law.
Negative perceptions of “red tape” aside, public services such as schooling, health care, policing or public transport are considered a crucial state function making public bureaucratic action the locus of government power. While military organisations have existed as long as government itself, the idea of a standing police force is a relatively modern concept. For example, Medieval England’s system of travelling criminal courts, or assizes, used show trials and public executions to instill communities with fear to maintain control.
- The first modern police were probably those in 17th-century Paris, in the court of Louis XIV, although the Paris Prefecture of Police claim they were the world’s first uniformed policemen.
- For example, in Brown v. Board of Education, the United States Supreme Court nullified many state statutes that had established racially segregated schools, finding such statutes to be incompatible with the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
- To pass legislation, a majority of the members of a legislature must vote for a bill in each house.
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- Furthermore, after negotiations lasting fifteen years, in 2001 China joined the World Trade Organization.
The term “civil law”, referring to the civilian legal system originating in continental Europe, should not be confused with “civil law” in the sense of the common law topics distinct from criminal law and public law. Legal systems vary between jurisdictions, with their differences analysed in comparative law. In civil law jurisdictions, a legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates the law. In common law systems, judges may make binding case law through precedent, although on occasion this may be overturned by a higher court or the legislature. Historically, religious law has influenced secular matters and is, as of the 21st century, still in use in some religious communities. Sharia law based on Islamic principles is used as the primary legal system in several countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia.
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Hugo Grotius, the founder of a purely rationalistic system of natural law, argued that law arises from both a social impulse—as Aristotle had indicated—and reason. Immanuel Kant believed a moral imperative requires laws “be chosen as though they should hold as universal laws of nature”. Jeremy Bentham and his student Austin, following David Hume, believed that this conflated the “is” and what “ought to be” problem.
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Furthermore, after negotiations lasting fifteen years, in 2001 China joined the World Trade Organization. Roman law was heavily influenced by Greek philosophy, but its detailed rules were developed by professional jurists and were highly sophisticated. In medieval England, royal courts developed a body of precedent which later became the common law. A Europe-wide Law Merchant was formed so that merchants could trade with common standards of practice rather than with the many splintered facets of local laws. The Law Merchant, a precursor to modern commercial law, emphasised the freedom to contract and alienability of property.
This “great charter” or Magna Carta of 1215 also required that the King’s entourage of judges hold their courts and judgments at “a certain place” rather than dispensing autocratic justice in unpredictable places about the country. A concentrated and elite group of judges acquired a dominant role in law-making under this system, and compared to its European counterparts the English judiciary became highly centralised. In 1297, for instance, while the highest court in France had fifty-one judges, the English Court of Common Pleas had five. This powerful and tight-knit judiciary gave rise to a systematised process of developing common law.
Volunteering at a pro bono clinic in Wilmington over fall break provided seven Duke Law News students with an experiential leaning opportunity and a chance to help others. A solid substantive grounding in the laws dealing with art, inventions, and information goods and services. We asked eight members of our faculty about the big ideas that drive their work, how these ideas can be used in our society today, and how legal scholarship can make a real impact.
For a description of legal training and a general background, see legal profession, legal education, and legal ethics. Articles that delineate the relationship of law to political structures are constitution; ideology; political party; and political system. For articles that discuss the importance of law regarding social justice and other social issues, see human rights; land reform; and social service. For an examination of comparative legal systems and the relationship of the law to the social sciences, see comparative law.