What is the Law?


The law is a set of rules created by the state which form a framework to ensure a peaceful society. When these rules are broken, sanctions can be imposed.

It is difficult to define the law, as it can vary greatly from one country to another. In the United States, for example, the law includes laws passed by Congress and signed into effect by the President, executive orders issued by the President or other executives, regulations drafted by federal agencies, and case law decided by courts.

Some countries employ a common law legal system, which relies on decisions made in specific cases to guide future courts, rather than written statutes. This is known as the “doctrine of precedent”, or stare decisis. In contrast, the majority of nations follow a civil law system, which has a more formal and detailed body of legislative statutes that judges must adhere to in arriving at their decisions.

Laws are the basis of government, and include constitutionally prescribed law (as found in the US Constitution), state legislature-passed laws, local ordinances, and administrative agency regulation. Other laws include criminal law, which governs criminal activities such as murder and theft, family law, which covers divorce and custody of children, and civil rights law, which protects individuals from discrimination.

Individuals also have laws governing their personal affairs, including property law, which defines people’s rights and duties toward tangible objects such as houses, cars, books, and computers; contract law, which governs agreements between two or more parties; tort law, which provides compensation when an individual or their belongings are damaged or injured; and immigration law, which establishes how people may enter a country.

The study of law includes the history of laws, as well as the theory and philosophy behind them. It is also important to understand how and why laws are changed or discarded, as well as the political and social context within which they are created.

The law can be a powerful tool, used to achieve political goals, control economic activity, and promote the public good. However, it is important to keep in mind that the law is a social construct, and that different cultures have very different ideas about what constitutes acceptable behavior. A person who is a “law unto themselves” acts independently and without regard for established norms, and often leads to chaos and conflict. The police work to preserve order and ensure that the law is observed. The legal system is a vital part of any democracy.