What is Law?

Law is a set of rules a society or government develops to deal with issues like crime, business agreements and social relationships. It also refers to the people who work in the legal system.

Law can vary between nations, because it depends on who has political power. For example, authoritarian governments may keep the peace and maintain the status quo, but can oppress minorities or restrict free expression. Democracy and social justice are essential components of law. In addition, laws are shaped by culture and history, as well as by the aspirations of people.

The laws of a nation are typically written by its legislature. They are then enforced by its judicial and police institutions. Law can be influenced by morals, empirical and social science or by philosophical questions about good and evil, for example the “law of diminishing returns”.

Those who enforce and apply the law must have knowledge and skills to understand it. This includes a legal education, and a broad base of experience and skills. Lawyers, judges and police need to have knowledge of the history of the legal system, as well as the broader culture and social context in which they work.

The law in the United States comes from the federal Constitution and statutes, as well as judicial interpretations of those laws. This makes federal law different from the laws of most countries, which typically derive their law from a mixture of legislative sources (including codifications in constitutions or statutes passed by the government) and custom and precedent based on decisions in cases that have been decided by courts.

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