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Topics: Law, United States Congress, Federal government of the United States Pages: 5 (1733 words) Published: September 19, 2014
Chapter 1

Law, therefore, is a set of rules that are enforced by a government authority.

At a most basic interpretation, some believe that law is simply power. That is, the law is followed because the sovereign issues orders that are backed by threats

Legal positivists believe that the law is what the law says. The laws are written, human-made rules. The law is not drawn from any source higher than human beings.

Legal positivists do not believe that law is simply power, because they believe that valid law must be created pursuant to the existing rules that allow the law to be created.

.Some people have a strong moral objection to engaging in armed conflict with other human beings. However, a legal positivist would most certainly comply with a law that required compulsory conscription

A common criticism of legal positivism is that it prohibits individuals from remaining true to their own consciences when their consciences conflict with the laws of the sovereign

A different viewpoint is legal realism, which is the belief that the law itself is far less important than the consideration of who is in the position to enforce the law. Like positivists, legal realists believe that law is the product of human making. However, unlike positivists, they believe that the outcome of any issue that arises under law is dependent on the person, such as a judge, who is in the position to exercise power under the mantle of the law. Additionally, realists believe that social and economic considerations should be brought to bear in legal disputes, which may very well be “extra” considerations that are not captured by the written law itself. In short, for a legal realist, knowing who is enforcing the law is far more important than what the law actually says.

For instance, they argue that judges should not use any factors other than the written law when rendering decisions. Legal realists, however, point out that judicial interpretation not only is necessary but also was contemplated by our Founding Fathers as a built-in check and balance to our other branches of government.

 Some aspects of natural law granting rights to citizens that no government could take away. Humans are able to reason, and therefore they are able to discover moral truths on their own. They are not automatons who require a sovereign power to tell them right from wrong. Natural law adherents do not reject human-made law. However, they recognize that human-made law is subordinate to natural law if the two types of law conflict.

Civil rights activists often rely on natural law arguments to advance their platforms. 

Violations of law are different. Violating the law carries penalties, such as liability or loss of liberty, depending on the type of violation. While we may generally decide whether or not to conform to social customs, we are compelled to obey the law under threat of penalty. Public law applies to everyone. It is law that has been created by some legitimate authority with the power to create law, and it has been “handed down” to the people within its jurisdiction.

Private law is typically understood to be law that is binding on specific parties. For instance, parties to a contract are involved in a private law agreement. The terms of the contract apply to the parties of the contract but not to anyone else. 

.Procedural law describes the legal rules that must be followed. In other words, it details the process or rules that are legally required. For instance, the U.S. government must generally obtain a warrant before searching someone’s private home. 

Criminal law is law related to conduct that is prohibited by the government. Civil law is all law that is not criminal law. The differences between civil law and criminal law are many. In criminal law, the violation of law is an injury to the public. In civil law, the injury is understood to be suffered by the plaintiff. A criminal charge is prosecuted by the government, while...
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