Law has a significant role in the operation of businesses and societies. The laws are made to help regulate social behavior. They also supply the ethical standards and expectations; while at the same time providing rules of conduct, a means for settling disputes and ways to enforce the rules. Some other functions that laws provide are peacekeeping, providing checks and balances in government, promoting personal freedom and economic growth, and protecting the environment. Without these laws to govern the actions of people and businesses, commerce would likely collapse and society would not be able to function very well.
While the United States legal system is very complex, the general functions of law seem rather simple. Laws are broken down into different types: constitutions, statutes, common law, administrative law, ordinances and executive orders. The Constitution is considered the overriding law as it establishes the basic principles of the government at both the state and federal level.
The Constitution also creates the branches of government and gives each of them certain powers and preventing other governments from passing laws, especially those that limit individual rights. Statutes are laws that are put into place by an elected official of the legislative branch of government. Administrative laws are similar but they are put into order by administrative agencies instead of elected officials. Common law is based on prior court decisions and is applied when cases are not governed by other types of law.
States and countries can enter into a treaty, which is done between two or more political figures. Ordinances are laws created by counties and municipalities. Executive orders are enacted by the president or the governor. However, the legislative branch must grant the request before it can become a law. Laws are also categorized into three classifications: criminal and civil law, substantive and procedural law, and public and private law. Criminal law deals with the punishment for crimes.
The government prosecutes people or businesses that commit crimes. The penalties include jail time and/or fines. Civil law deals with the responsibilities that private parties, businesses and the government owe to one another. The penalty assigned for breaking civil law is typically monetary compensation to the wronged party. Substantive law is a law that creates or defines rights, duties, obligations and causes of action that can be enforced by law. Procedural law gives methods for government agents, like the courts, to create and enforce substantive law. It also aids in controlling the actions of these agents during this process. Public law deals with the government and how it handles individuals. Some examples of public law include criminal and constitutional law.
Private law handles the individuals and the relations they have with other people. An example of private law is when two people enter into a contract. The United States legal system also has different types of courts. The two main classifications of courts are federal and state. Federal courts include federal district courts, specialized federal courts and the federal court of appeals. State courts include the trial courts and appellate courts. Trial courts are used to determine the initial facts of a case and apply the proper laws in order to reach a decision.
Appellate courts decide the legal questions without receiving any new evidence. Traffic and small claims courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. At my place of employment, we are governed by the federal and state government. I work for the local school district. As such, we have strict rules and regulations regarding child safety and security. For example, we are not allowed to throw out anything that has a child’s name on it, instead it needs to shred or put into a bin that is picked up by a shredding company. Also all of the kid’s records are locked in a file cabinet in a locked room, as are any medications that the child needs to take while at school.
Every child in the district is to have on record who is responsible for picking that child up in the event that the parents are unable to get there. On another side of the coin, the maintenance department is responsible for the cleaning and disinfecting of the classrooms on a daily basis. We are only allowed to use certain cleaners in the classrooms; these are ones that 99.9% of the kids will not be allergic to. And by law, we are not allowed to use things like Drain O, Comet, or bleach while the kids are in school; they are to be used before or after school only.
The only exception to this is the kitchen staff. The school cafeteria has had some major changes lately too. They are now required to serve one meatless meal a month. On a daily basis they are to offer whole grains, other sources of protein, like beans, and 1% milk or lower, and more vegetables. Our district is lucky in that aspect as we have a huge salad bar that has assorted veggies, kidney beans, cheeses, and different types of salad.
As one can see, the United States legal system is very complex. It recognizes the importance of law in everyday life. Rules, the enforcement of the rules and the penalties for breaking them are all needed to make sure that society operates in a fair and orderly manner. Without these laws, society would be total chaos.