Introduction to Law

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Wherever people have lived together, they have found it necessary to develop rules of conduct. They need rules for the settlement of disputes. They also need rules for the organization of their governments. Law is the set of rules that the government enforces through its police, its courts, and its other agencies. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee demonstrates the importance of law in our communities, especially criminal law.

Law makes it possible for men to live together peaceably in a community. If there were no law, every man could do just as he pleased, with law, the people in a community know that the government will enforce rules that will make it possible for them to live together without conflict. The philosophy or science of law is called jurisprudence.

There are two main kinds of laws. Civil or public law helps settle disputes between people or companies. Criminal law deals with crimes, or actions that cause serious harm to an individual or group.

Public law is the body of rules in which the government is directly involved. Public law regulates the relationships between individuals and the government. One group of rules in public law defines and limits the powers of the government. The part of public law most familiar to many persons is criminal law, which is the body of rules that we are commanded to obey. The government may fine those who do not obey, send them to jail, or even execute them.

A number of smaller groups of rules also come under the general heading of public law. International law is concerned with agreements among nations, problems of boundaries, and other questions arising from the relationships of one country with another. Constitutional law deals with the problems that have arisen about various clauses in the United States Constitution. Problems in constitutional law include the organization of the government and the guarantees of our liberties. Administrative law is the body of rules made by administrative or...
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