The Role of Law

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University of Phoenix
2008

The Role of Law

Law is a system or collection of “principles and regulations established in a community by some authority and applicable to its people.” (Dictionary.com) In the past, people viewed law as an unchanging factor that was a part of the natural order of life. Today, most lawmakers view law as a flexible instrument that can be used to accomplish a chosen purpose. “One strength of this instrumentalist attitude is its willingness to adapt the law to further the social good. A weakness, however, is the legal instability and uncertainty those adaptations often produce.” (Mallor, 2007) A few of the most important functions and roles of laws are to peaceably settle disputes, check government power, serve the economy and society, and protect the environment. Law plays a basic and important role in keeping the peace through civil and criminal laws. “Criminal law is the law under which the government prosecutes someone for committing a crime. It creates duties that are owed to the public as a whole.” (Mallor, 2007) A major function of civil law is the “obligations that private parties owe to each other. It is the law applied when one private party sues another.” (Mallor, 2007) However, a government body can be party to a civil suit if it sues or is sued by an individual or business. The constitution is a great example of the restrictions or checking of government power. It promotes personal and corporate freedoms and prevents the government from taking certain actions that would restrict those freedoms. The principle of the separation of powers gives Congress, the president, and the federal courts certain powers to keep the interest of the people and businesses in mind. A system of checks and balances was set up to create a sort of equality between these powers. For example, the president and “veto legislation passed by Congress, but allows Congress to override such a veto by a two-thirds vote of each House.” (Mallor, 2007) To...
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