Law is the set of rules created by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. The precise definition of law is a matter of ongoing debate, but most people agree that it serves four principal purposes: keeping the peace, maintaining the status quo, protecting individual rights and freedoms, and promoting social justice.
Laws are passed by government officials and are enacted through the courts. Those who break laws can be fined or put in jail.
Those who follow the laws are called law-abiding citizens.
The laws of a nation, such as the United States, serve to keep the peace, maintain the status quo, protect individual rights and freedoms, and promote social justice. Some systems of law are better at these functions than others, so it is important to choose the one that suits your needs and beliefs.
A law may be a statute, an act of Congress, or a regulation made by an executive department or agency. A statute is a law that has passed both houses of Congress and been signed by the president. An act of Congress is a law that has passed the House of Representatives and been sent to the Senate for approval.
Statutes are arranged by subject in the United States Code, and individual laws are arranged by title in the same code. The United States Code is a compilation of most public laws in force, organized by subject into 50 titles.
Laws vary in their stringency and weight, depending on the legal doctrines that apply. The most stringent are those that the law considers to be fundamental, or to be protective of particularly significant interests and values.
Often, the extent of stringency is determined through a series of normative jurisprudence, political and constitutional theory, and judicial practice assessments. Other factors include the ingredients of a legal right’s moral justification, background social and political commitments and values, expediency, and institutional considerations.
There are two major types of rights, those that designate a specific right-object (called claims) and those that are protected by a particular power (called privileges). These categories differ, however, in how they manifest themselves in the law.
Rights in personam are rights that arouse an interest against a specific person or persons. They are usually associated with contracts, trusts, and parts of tort law.
They may also be a part of a claim, such as a breach of a contract or a tort. In these cases, the right-object is the individual who holds the claim.
These kinds of rights can also be categorized as statutory or regulatory in nature, as in the case of criminal laws. They are not as stringent as other rights, but they are still considered important.
The term “law” is commonly used to refer to all enforceable social or governmental rules, but there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, some societies rely on a ‘de facto’ or informal system of law.
Some legal systems are based on the principles of natural law, while others are derived from deontological principles. Both theories reflect longstanding beliefs about the legitimacy of rights.