Law is a structured system of laws developed and enforced by governmental or communal institutions to regulate conduct, with the precise definition again a matter of long-standing debate. It is usually defined as an art and science of civil law. It was one of the three sciences that was first developed in the twelfth century by Catholic monks. Others were natural sciences (law and medicine), philosophies (theology and ethics), and political systems (political systems and government).

Law is the systematic discipline that aims to establish and maintain the obligations of those individuals, groups, or organizations who undertake public obligations and face governmental consequences. The government may be established in different forms at different times during history. The ultimate object of the law is to establish justice, fairness, and truth among individuals, associations, or nations. Within the jurisdiction of the courts, the scope of Jurisprudence extends to all matters that affect the administration of public life, including economic, civil, and criminal justice. It also includes administrative law, including professional regulations concerning organizations such as universities and legal professionals.

Law governs our rights and obligations as citizens so that we have a justifiable claim to the fruits of our labors and to compensation for harms done to us. There are many other things that are included within the realm of laws. A constitution is the supreme law and represents the highest commitment of people to their political institutions. The constitution must be drafted by a constitutional assembly, which meets for two or three days to consider amendments to the constitution and propose propositions for further discussion before the constitution is adopted.

The courts constitute the intermediate body between the legislature and the people. The function of the courts is to protect the rights and interests of litigants, to decide cases according to the rules of law and justice, to provide guidance to the administration of justice and to prevent abuse of power. Although there are some inherent differences between the functioning of the courts and that of the legislature, the basic mission of the latter is to govern through laws, while the former provides a remedy only for wrongdoers. A system of checks and balances ensures the legitimacy of the justice system and checks the power of rulers.

In contrast, the role of the legislature is limited to enact laws that define the parameters governing the administration of justice and determine the powers that may be vested in the courts. A system of checks and balances ensures the equality of judges and the right of every citizen to fair trials. There are generally two bodies of judges: one is the family court, which consists of family courts headed by a judge; the second is the probate court, which consists of special courts for particular crimes such as murder, rape and other adult crimes. The role of the latter is not limited to enforcing laws but also to award compensation for victims of crime and to prevent miscarriages of justice through clear adjudication of legal issues.

The Constitution creates the bases on which various organs of government operate. It ensures that the provisions of the constitution are accepted by the governed and imposed by legislation. It provides for an orderly procedure for carrying out the legal provisions and thus ensures that the provision of law is consistent with the values that society holds. To ensure that the provision of law is legalized, the institutions of law and justice rely on the decisions of the courts and this is why the rule of law is so important in a democratic society.

By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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