Laws aren’t laws if no one respects them. If everyone decides that laws, courts, law enforcement, traffic rules and the rest are arbitrary and no longer apply, communities could quickly descend into chaos and anarchy. Policing would be largely ineffective and the legal system would begin to crumble. But because part of American culture is the rule of law, it is taught in schools from elementary level, shown in popular media and deeply ingrained in our everyday lives. Here’s what lawalways thinks you need to know about the Rule of Law Mechanism.
In the Beginning
Before America became the United States of America, there were the 13 colonies, colonists, loyalists, Britain and the American Revolution. Many colonists saw a need for government, laws and laws to govern government. Enter Thomas Paine, 1776. He authored a booklet entitled, Common Sense, which quickly became a common read and garnered lots of supporters. One of its main ideals is that law is top dog in America. When the Declaration of Independence comes along about six months later, it is constructed as a legal document. It includes a statement about jurisdiction, it identifies parties involved, a list of wrongdoings and ways to remedy them, and it even concludes with an oath. It’s purpose was to legally separate America from Britain and make way for a separate government and laws.
The Constitution is the basis for all law in the United States of America. It gives structure to the land’s government by defining three branches of government to create checks and balances to create a more fair and balanced code of laws. The Legislative Branch consists of Congress, who openly makes laws. The Judicial Branch is the Supreme Court and lesser courts, who interpret the law independently and impartially to resolve issues. The Executive Branch is the President, the Cabinet and other agencies, whose job it is to make sure that no one is above the law and to enforce laws consistently.
We Have Rights
According to the Constitution, these laws have their place and so do every individual’s rights. Rights are the things that are afforded to citizens just for being citizens, and they are outlined in the Bill of Rights. You have the right to speak freely, to bear arms, to due process under the law and a lawyer in court. Your rights are protected by the Constitution and keep the government from making certain impositions on its citizens. The Rule of Law also ensures your rights. That is as long as everyone agrees to honor those laws.
So the long and short of the Rule of Law in American society is that we have laws to maintain order. Law, in essence, is what creates order. And it is this acceptance of law by the citizens that allows for the Rule of Law to be a thing. If no one respects and honors the laws, law has no rule. And one of the main reasons the Rule of Law mechanism works, is because we have found many ways to weave it into the very fabric of American culture.