Chapter 1: Legal Heritage and the Information Age
US law is primarily based on English common law, and other legal systems, such as Spanish and French civil law. ← Sources of law are the US Constitution, state constitutions, federal and state statutes, ordinances, administrative agency rules and regulations, executive orders, and judicial decisions by federal and state courts. ← Businesses organized in the US are subject to its laws and the laws of the countries in which they operate ← Businesspeople owe a duty to act ethically in the conduct of their affairs, and businesses owe a responsibility not to harm society
What is law? Law consists of rules that regulate the conduct of individuals, businesses and other organizations within society. It is intended to protect persons and their property against unwanted interference from others. ← Definition of law: Law, in its generic sense, is a body of rules of action or conduct prescribed by controlling authority, and having binding legal force. That which must be obeyed and followed by citizens subject to sanctions or legal consequences is a law. ← Functions of the law:
o Keeping the peace, which includes making certain activities crimes o Shaping moral standards (enacting laws that discourage drug / alcohol abuse) o Promoting social justice (enacting statues that prohibit discrimination to employment) o Maintaining the status quo (passing laws preventing the forceful overthrow of the government) o Facilitating orderly change (passing statutes only after considerable study, debate, and public input) o Facilitating planning (well-designed commercial laws allow businesses to plan their activities, allocate their productive resources, and assess the risks they take) o Providing a basis for compromise (approximately 90% of lawsuits are settled prior to trial) o Maximizing individual freedom (the rights of freedom of speech, religion and association granted by the 1st Amendment) ← Fairness of the law
o Ex: Standefer v. US: reality that different juries may reach different results under any criminal statute ← Flexibility of the law
o US law evolves and changes along with the norms of society, technology, and the growth and expansion of commerce in the US and the world o Law is variable because it deals with human relations in the ir most complicated aspects. Much of the uncertainty of law is not an unfortunate accident; it is of immense social value. o Plessy v. Ferguson: Louisiana had a law that provided for separate but equal accommodations for black and white railway passengers, etc. o Brown v. Board of Justice: case that challenged the separate but equal doctrine as it applied to schools (Justice Warren)
Schools of Jurisprudential Thought: philosophy or science of the law ← Natural Law School: postulates that the law is based on what is “correct.” o Natural law philosophers emphasize a moral theory of law: law should be based on morality and ethics o Natural law is discovered by humans through the use of reason and choosing between good and evil ← Documents such as the US Constitution, the Magna Carta, and the United Nations Charter reflect this theory ← Historical School: believes that the law is an aggregate of social traditions and customs that have developed over the centuries o Believes that changes in the norms of society will gradually be reflected in the law. o To these legal philosophers, the law is an evolutionary process o Look to past legal decisions (precedent) to solve contemporary problems ← Analytical School: maintains that the law is shaped by logic o Believe that results are reached by applying principles of logic to the specific facts of the case o Emphasis is on the logic of the...