Laws are as ancient as civilization. They are necessary for the common good and for the welfare of society. Black’s Law Dictionary, as quoted by Melvin (2012), defines law as a “body of rules of action or conduct prescribed by controlling authority, and having legal binding force”. In other words, laws are rules of behavior that are legally binding and are enforced by controlling authority. Laws affect every aspect of our lives but most of the time we are not aware of them. We pay our taxes, observe the speed limit, and avoid stealing, without having a sense of being watched. Honesty and truthfulness are natural for most people. However, laws protect the rights of individuals and business entities and allow for compensation when injury has been inflicted.
In the United States, the legislature, made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives, makes laws. The President has the power to veto a bill before it is passed into law. The Supreme Court reviews laws and can invalidate laws that are inconsistent with the Constitution (Melvin, 2012). American law uses the concept of the doctrine of stare decisis (Latin “to stand by that which is decided”). Cases that have the same facts and issues have outcomes similar to cases that have previously been decided. When parties are found guilty of breaking the law, the courts order compensation in the form of money. They also have the authority to impose a particular order, for example, requiring a company to put a warning on their product label.
Article 1 of the Constitution addresses the establishment of Congress and the regulation of commerce among the States. Commonly referred to as the Commerce Clause, it is interesting to note that the definition of commerce continues to be a matter of debate. Originally it was intended to refer to trade and exchange among states but this has developed into acknowledging situations where there is a substantial economic effect on commerce among states.
The Affordable Care Act was reviewed by the Supreme Court justices in June, 2012. Chief Justice John Roberts announced the judgment of the court and referred to the Commerce Clause. He said, “Congress already possesses expansive power to regulate what people do. Upholding the Affordable Care Act under the Commerce Clause would give Congress the same license to regulate what people do not do.” The court upheld the law requiring most Americans to have health insurance by ruling that it must be called a tax. The court underscored the power of Congress to regulate tax, not compel it.
Business takes place within the confines of both national and international law. At the national level there are federal, state and local laws and regulations. Contracts, taxes, employment and bankruptcy are examples of activities that come within the scope of law in every country. The Constitution is the supreme law in the United States. Federal law overrides state law and state law is superior to local laws.
Zoning laws are statutory laws governed at local level. A few years ago my religious community wanted to build offices on our property in upstate New York. The surveyors found artifacts of native Indians on the site. It started out as an uncomplicated project but soon developed into a nightmare. The local zoning board was petitioned by the local historical society, the local heritage foundation, and the local Native American Trust. We were fortunate to get a ruling that satisfied everybody involved. Local laws were superseded by state laws that acknowledged the large number of similar sites in the area.
Congress already possesses expansive power to regulate what people do. Upholding the Affordable Care Act under the Commerce Clause would give Congress the same license to regulate what people do not do.
http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/commerce_clause No date Commerce clause The Commerce Clause refers to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress the power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.” The Constitution enumerates certain powers for the federal government; the Tenth Amendment provides that any powers that are not enumerated in the Constitution are reserved for the states. Congress has often used the Commerce Clause to justify exercising legislative power over the activities of states and their citizens, leading to significant and ongoing controversy regarding the balance of power between the federal government and the states.
The Commerce Clause has historically been viewed as both a grant of congressional authority and as a restriction on states’ powers to regulate. The “dormant” Commerce Clause refers to the prohibition, implied in the Commerce Clause, against states passing legislation that discriminates against or excessively burdens interstate commerce. The meaning of the word “commerce” is a source of much of the controversy. The Constitution does not explicitly define the word. Some argue that it refers simply to trade or exchange, while others claim that the founders intended to describe more broadly commercial and social intercourse between citizens of different states. Thus, the interpretation of “commerce” affects the appropriate dividing line between federal and state power.
Lat. “to stand by that which is decided.” The principal that the precedent decisions are to be followed by the courts. To abide or adhere to decided cases.
http://www.lectlaw.com/def2/s065.htm 1995 – 2012 Stare Decisis
Law plays a significant role in the successful operation of business and society. Laws regulate social behavior, which leads to a society that runs efficiently. Laws also supply ethical standards and expectations, while providing rules of conduct, measures to enforce those rules, and a means for settling disputes. Other functions of law include: peacekeeping; checking government power and promoting personal freedom; facilitating planning and the realization of reasonable expectations; promoting economic growth through free competition; promoting social justice; and protecting the environment (Mallor, Barnes, Bowers, and Langvardt). It is important to note that without laws to govern the actions of people and businesses, society would not be able to function effectively, and commerce would likely collapse. Although the general functions of law appear to be rather simple, the United States legal system is actually very complex. Laws are broken down into several different types.
These include constitutions, statutes, common law, administrative regulations and decisions, treaties, ordinances, and executive orders.Constitutions A constitution is the overriding law, because it establishes the fundamental principles of a government at either the state or federal level. This includes creating the branches of the government, bestowing and refusing certain powers to each branch, and preventing other governmental units from passing certain laws, specifically those which limit individual rights.Statutes and Common Law A statute is a law enacted by elected representatives of the legislative branch of government. Administrative regulations are similar to statutes, but are enacted by administrative agencies instead of elected representatives. Common law, on the other hand, is based on prior court decisions. These laws are applied when cases are not governed by other types of law.Treaties, Ordinances, and Executive Orders Treaties are contracts between two or more political authorities, such as states or countries. An ordinance is a law created by counties and municipalities. Executive orders are laws enacted by the president or governors.
The power to create an executive order is granted through legislative delegation.Law Classifications In addition to the different types of law, laws are also categorized into three general classifications: criminal law and civil law, substantive law and procedural law, and public law and private law. It is important to note that the different classifications of law are not mutually exclusive. As noted below, criminal law is also a public law. Criminal law is concerned with the punishment of crimes. Under criminal law, the government prosecutes people or entities that commit crimes. The penalties for breaking criminal law include incarceration or fines. Civil law relates to responsibilities that private parties, organizations, or the governments owe to one another. Penalties for breaking civil law include compensation to the wronged party, such as monetary compensation. Substantive law, as defined by a dictionary, is a “law that creates or defines rights, duties, obligations, and causes of action that can be enforced by law” (Substantive Law). Procedural law provides methods for government agents, such as courts, in creating and enforcing substantive laws.
It also controls the actions of these agents during this process. Public law deals with the government and its dealings with individuals. Examples of public law include constitutional law and criminal law. Conversely, private law deals with individuals and the relations they have with other individuals. Contracts are an example of private law.Types of Courts In addition to defining the various types and classifications of law, the United States legal system also provides different types of courts. The two main classifications of courts are federal and state. Federal courts include federal district courts; specialized federal courts, such as the Court of International Trade; and federal courts of appeals. State courts include trial courts and appellate courts.
A trial court is used to determine the initial facts in a case and apply the proper laws in order to reach a decision, while an appellate court decides legal questions without receiving new evidence. Another type of state court is the court of limited jurisdiction. Traffic court and small claims court are courts of limited jurisdiction.Conclusion The United States legal system is intricate and complex. It recognizes the importance of law in day to day individual and business life. Rules, enforcement of these rules, and penalties for breaking them, are necessary in order to ensure a fair, orderly, and successful society. The same can be said for creating a fair, orderly, and successful business environment. Without law, anarchy would surely follow. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_the_functions_of_law_in_a_society Related Questions
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1. Maintains social control
2. Protects public order
3. To resolve disputes
4. Protects certainty of systems
5. Facilitates orderly change
6. Brings out justice in society
7. Outlines what the government can do and what it cannot do
The law is the body of rules imposed by a State upon its members which is designed to regulate human conduct within that State. The courts interpret these rules of conduct, decide whether they have been broken and pass sentence or make an award of compensation. A certain standard of behavior is thereby maintained amongst the members of the State in the interest of the common good. Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., et al., 505 U.S. 504 (1992) Melvin, S. P. (2011). The legal environment of business: A managerial approach: Theory to practice . Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection. Stare decisis. (1995-2012).
Retrieved from http://www.lectlaw.com/def2/s065.htm Supreme Court of the United States. (2012). October term, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-393c3a2.pdf