The Soviet Union and the Rule of Law

Topics: Law, Soviet Union, Common law Pages: 4 (1275 words) Published: July 15, 2014
The Soviet Union and the Rule of Law

How do they create laws?
Soviet concept of law
Soviet law was rooted in pre-revolutionary Russian law and Marxism/Leninism. Pre-revolutionary influences included Byzantine law, Mongol law, Russian Orthodox Canon law, and Western law. Western law was mostly absent until the judicial reform of Alexander II in 1864, five decades before the revolution. Despite this, the supremacy of law and equality before the law were not well-known concepts, the tsar was still not bound by the law, and the "police had unlimited authority."

Marxism/Leninism viewed law as a superstructure in the base and superstructure model of society. "Capitalist" law was a tool of "bourgeois domination and a reflection of bourgeois values." Since law was a tool "to maintain class domination", in a classless society, law would inevitably disappear.

Like all other government institutions, the judiciary was officially subordinated to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union.

Soviet law, also called socialist law, law developed in Russia after the communist seizure of power in 1917 and imposed throughout the Soviet Union in the 1920s. After World War II, the Soviet legal model also was imposed on Soviet-dominated regimes in eastern and central Europe. Later, ruling communist parties in China, Cuba, North Korea, and Vietnam adopted variations of Soviet law. Soviet law, which changed radically during its more than 70 years of development in the Soviet Union, revived certain features of earlier tsarist law, shared key elements with the law of other dictatorships, and introduced public ownership of the means of production and subordination of the legal system to the Soviet Communist Party.

Mikhail Gorbachev and the Soviet leadership have recognized the need for fundamental legal reform in the U.S.S.R., and their emphasis is well placed. Law is the lifeblood of any democratically organized polity. It shapes social and economic structures and...
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