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Rules vs Laws

The main difference between rules and laws is the consequences associated with breaking them. While each is developed to invoke a sense of order, fair play, and safety, the weight of a law is much heavier than the weight of a rule.

Laws are like the legal version of rules. When you are a child, a parent sets rules to be followed. When you are in a society, the government sets laws to be followed. When a rule is broken, the consequences tend to be uncomfortable but mild in comparison to the breaking of a law.

Laws are enforced by a higher governmental office, usually the police and the prosecutor’s office. Laws are written in specific code so that they can be interpreted as needed. When you break a law there is legal action that follows, provided that you are caught.

Rules are more flexible and carry low end consequences. You can set up rules for games, rules for the home, even rules for fighting or being intimate with a partner. Rules are personal in nature, and they are often adjusted as the conditions and circumstances of the home change.

Laws must be passed through due process in order to take effect. A law starts off as a bill, and must go through a series of checks, balances, and votes in order to become a law. Rules are merely set and adjusted as the need arises, and should be followed out of respect for those setting the rules.

Rules help us learn to prepare for living in society. As youngsters, we tend to learn that there are rules about hitting, stealing, lying, and being wasteful. As young adults, we are held accountable for these rules by becoming law abiding citizens.

Laws are not meant to set teaching boundaries, but are there to be enforced, and are punishable by imprisonment and even death if they are broken. By the time you are old enough to contend with the law (outside of children killing children) you have already learned the process by dealing with various sets of rules.

Summary:

1. Laws are the legal variation of rules.

2. Laws are enforced by governmental factors such as the police and prosecutors.

3. Rules are set by individuals.

4. Laws are set by the government.

5. Laws must go through certain processes to become laws, including a voting process.

6. Rules are set by organizations and individuals.

7. Rules are more flexible, and have lighter consequences when broken.

8. Laws are inflexible, and carry stiff penalties including imprisonment, and in some cases, death.

9. Rules are set during childhood to prepare for living in accordance with laws.

10. Laws are not a teaching tool, but a tool for keeping order in society.

John Locke and the United States Constitution

John Locke remains one of the most influential writers in the history of governmental philosophy. His writings proved instrumental to the drafting of the United States constitution by Thomas Jefferson in 1787. Although many of the founding fathers were not well versed in the political theory of Locke, his influence on Thomas Jefferson proved invaluable and eventually served as an undeniable backbone to United States government. Locke claimed that legislative bodies are to govern with blind impunity, as to not vary in the treatment of specific groups of people, but to apply the law in an even handed way toward everyone. Locke’s influence can be seen in the United State’s Constitution’s intent to be for the good of the people, as Locke stated that there is no other logical purpose for laws and legislative bodies. Locke describes the state of nature very explicitly in his writings, claiming that the nature of society is in essence, anarchic, and that although people are innately free, they are undeniably subject to the unchangeable laws of nature so that a legislature should govern according to these laws alone.

Locke goes on to describe the reasons for government itself, and exposes the many reasons men decide to leave the state of nature in exchange for a politically structured society. He argues the laws of nature are ill enforced in the state of nature itself, and that humans have a natural obligation to defend these laws by organizing themselves into societies, or legislative bodies. Locke also clarifies the conditions under which a government may be removed from power by the people. In his discussion of “social contract” Locke states that the people give up certain freedoms in exchange for a stable government that rules according to the laws of nature. However, when a government forfeits its obligation to rule according to these laws, the people have the inalienable right to destroy the government in lieu of a more appropriate legislative body. Many of Locke’s principles found their way into the democratic constitutions the world around, as well as in the supporting minds of several founding fathers of the United States, such as Thomas Jefferson.

Locke’s philosophical works, along with those of such men as Hobbes and Voltaire, served as the inspiration for a government for the people. Locke’s state of nature is in stark contrast to many of the other political philosophers of his time. While Hobbes wrote in a similar fashion about the miserable human condition, Locke argues that although the state of nature does not actively enforce its own laws, humans are still obligated to create situations in which these laws may be properly followed. No one is exempt from these laws of nature, and if a government fails to uphold them in an effective way, it is surely not a government at all. Locke’s description of the state of nature borders the ideas of anarchy, but does not explicitly use these terms. No individual of the state may deprive another of the freedom to choose, however, men are not entirely free to do what they please if it is in contrast to the laws of nature. Locke states that the state of nature leaves humanity vulnerable to continual dangers, and that men, however free they may be in this state, are constantly subject to attacks on their liberty that they are powerless to defend against. Thus the state of nature is one of constant fear and despair, and that the extreme nature of this freedom is not conducive to a functional human population in any way. Locke does not go as far as Hobbes in describing the dangers that the state of nature offers, but does use this state to his advantage when he describes the purpose of organized government. In short, Locke concludes that nature indeed has an undeniable set of laws, however, it lacks the power to defend these laws in the face of a human population. Locke argues that the state of nature itself, unbridled freedom, does exist, and that it exists in any situation in which a government acts tyrannically, illogically, or erratically in a way that contrasts the natural law. Locke argues that the nature of government is a defense against the brutal and unforgiving state of nature. In the state of nature, men are free to do as they please, but are left entirely vulnerable to the whims of more powerful humans. This violates the laws of nature that Locke claims the state of nature lacks the authority to enforce. People tend to leave the state of nature and thus give up their unbridled freedom in order to protect themselves from intrusions on their natural rights. This is the very essence of government and the main focus of Locke’s second treatise. The people have the obligation to organize into legislative bodies in order to defend the laws of nature that govern them regardless. Political societies are to govern according to the laws of nature, according to Locke, and have an obligation with the people known as a “social contract”. A political society allows the laws of nature to be enforced in an evenhanded and unbiased way toward all people, and protect the people’s freedom. Although people obviously forfeit some of their freedoms in the pursuit of a lawful society, Locke considers this sacrifice absolutely necessary for the common good, as he claims that people are not granted the right to do as they please by nature.

Political societies limit the personal freedoms of its constituents but at the same time protect their rights. Locke draws an undeniable distinction between freedom and rights. In the state of nature, one may be free to kill, but in doing so, gives up the “God given right” to live. Thus in order to protect these rights, one must forfeit some freedoms. However, Locke does insist that these sacrifices must only be given for the sake of one’s most important rights, and more specifically according to the laws of nature. Stated simply, Locke understands that the state of nature provides men with unlimited freedom, but the innate dangers in this freedom cause people to gravitate toward organized society, a place where their most sacred rights are protected in exchange for freedoms. Locke discusses the sacrifice of rights and the transition of humanity from the state of nature to organized political society. However, all political philosophies must have exceptions in order for them to make sense, and Locke’s second treatise is no different.

Locke goes on to observe the different criteria for political revolution in a society. While the people undoubtedly must give up many of their freedoms in order to produce a stable society, the government that they produce also holds a certain set of responsibilities to its people. This is part of Locke’s social contract that the people enter into with their government. According to Locke, when a government is created, it is solely responsible for enforcing natural law upon its citizens, and nothing more. The institution of laws that violate this principle, are illogical, or simply tyrannical are wholly condemned in Locke’s political philosophy. Locke claims that if the government of the people fails to uphold its responsibilities of the social contact, it is entirely appropriate for the people to remove its power and set up a government that adheres more strictly to the concept of natural law. The people have the right to dissolve any government that completely fails to uphold their interests and the interests of nature. The social contract plays a very important part in Locke’s political ideals, and is the entire basis for the idea of revolution in government. While philosophers like Thomas Hobbes argued that the state of nature, anarchy, was simply a hypothetical situation, Locke argues that this state of nature exists in any government that institutes tyrannical laws and that when a government begins to revert to the chaotic state of nature, the people retain the right to exercise the social contract and dissolve the government. Although Locke’s social contract heavily influenced the constitution, it remains entirely unclear what the grounds for violation of natural law are, so that it would be very difficult to accuse a government of failing to uphold them. Locke’s works have been applied to several revolutions, including the American and French revolutions, in which the people asserted that it was in their best interest to institute a new government. The social contact, while entirely subjective, has worked as a justification for revolution throughout history, and remains a staple of many democratic constitutions even today. John Locke was a brilliant political philosopher that was centuries ahead of his time in his theories on government. In his second treatise he outlines many conditions for a functional and proper government that will serve the best interests of humanity. Locke’s second treatise exclusively deals with the state of nature and the laws of nature. He details the anarchic tendencies of the state of nature and explains why it is not sufficient to provide all humans with their unalienable rights. Locke further explains why humans tend to gravitate toward a governmental system and away from the state of nature. Although natural state provides men with unlimited freedom and equality, and deprives them of their rights because there can be no legitimate repercussions for violating natural law. Thus people enter into a social contract with their leaders, sacrificing some of their freedoms for their rights.

This leads Locke to his final conclusion on the nature of government. When people enter into a social contract with their government and agree to sacrifice their rights, their government enters into a certain level of responsibility to its people as well. If the government fails to uphold the interests of its people, or it begins legislating in a way that regresses back to natural law, the people retain the right to remove their collective power from the government and set up a new one in its place. Though many consider Locke’s works to be synonymous with Democracy, his ideals could be applied to a functional monarchy as well, or even a benevolent dictatorship. As long as a government can effectively maintain its social contact and is chosen by the majority of the people, Locke’s philosophy leaves much of the varieties of government available for usage. Locke’s political philosophy can be applied to everything from the American Revolution to democracy abroad, and everything in between. Locke succeeds in placing every revolution in history within the context of his social contract principle, and in doing so; he brings to light the very nature of humanity.

A Short History of US Law and Constitution

Law is generally defined as a system of rules and regulations that are equal for everyone and are enforced through a set of institutions. The political system, economy and society are shaped by it in numerous ways and serves as a primary social mediator of relations between people.

The US constitution is its supreme law and is the base of the legal authority for the existence of US and the federal government of the United States.

The history of law is very old and it began since the start of mankind even before the time when written laws and courts had ever existed. Ancient Greece, Egypt and in Babylonia of Mesopotamia region thousands of years back had their laws. The US started a movement for its constitution after getting independence from the British. Customary laws dictated human actions for a long time by reflecting the conduct of people to each other. The natural law was discovered following the customary law.

The United States Constitution is the shortest and oldest written constitution still in use by any nation in the world today. The framework for the organization of the US government and for the relationship of the federal government to the states and its people was provided in the constitution. Although the Declaration of independence was a statement of principles but it did not form a government or a political framework to show how the governance would be done. The US had been practicing governance for a long time before the Declaration of Independence but the concept of sovereignty of people in the republic was new.

There were also commercial and trade laws that existed in the Middle Ages through which trade and transactions in Europe were governed. They were suitable for certain standards for normalizing the international trade. The constitution of the United States was the source for establishing a strong central or federal government with broad powers to regulate relations between the states and with sole responsibility in such areas as foreign affairs and defense.

The 20th century historians are of a view that legal history is a more contextualized mode that is more in line with the thoughts of social historians. The US constitution has three branches - executive judicial and. Legislative. In addition, it has two houses – upper house and lower house. The case law and civil codes were achieved by analyzing different aspects of the case results. Different parameters like social science investigation, statistical methods, analyzing class differences, petitioners and players in varied legal processes were used by legal historians to evaluate the case histories.

Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson, Thomas, 1743–1826, 3d President of the United States (1801–9), author of the Declaration of Independence, and apostle of agrarian democracy.

Early Life

Jefferson was born on Apr. 13, 1743, at "Shadwell," in Goochland (now in Albemarle) co., Va. The vicinity, at that time considered a western outpost, was to remain his lifelong home, and from boyhood he absorbed the democratic views of his Western countrymen. After graduating from the College of William and Mary (1762), he studied law under George Wythe.

Revolutionary Leader

In the colonial house of burgesses Jefferson was (1769–75) a leader of the patriot faction. He was a founding member of the Virginia Committee of Correspondence, and in A Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774), prepared for the First Virginia Convention, he brilliantly expounded the view that Parliament had no authority in the colonies and that the only bond with England was voluntary allegiance to the king. Although never an effective public speaker, he won a reputation as a draftsman of resolutions and addresses.

A delegate to the Second Continental Congress (1775–76), he served as a member of the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence. That document, except for minor alterations by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin and some others made on the floor of Congress, was wholly the work of Jefferson. In spirit it reflects his debt to English political theorists, particularly John Locke, and to French and other continental philosophers.

Jefferson returned to the Virginia legislature in the hope of being able to translate his ideals into reality in the establishment of a new state government. He urged the abolition of entail and primogeniture to prevent the continuance of an aristocracy; both practices were abolished, although primogeniture existed until 1785. His bill for establishing religious freedom, grounded in the belief that a person's opinions cannot be coerced, was not successful until 1786, when James Madison was able to carry part of the Jeffersonian program to completion.

In 1779, Jefferson succeeded Patrick Henry as governor of Virginia. He served through the trying last years of the American Revolution when Virginia was invaded by the British, and, hampered by lack of financial and military resources, experienced great difficulty. His conduct as governor was investigated in 1781, but he was completely vindicated.

Postwar Republican Leader

In 1783–84 he was again in the Continental Congress, where he drafted a plan for a decimal system of coinage and drew up a proposed ordinance for the government of the Northwest Territory, which, although not then adopted, was the basis for the Ordinance of 1787. In 1785 he succeeded Franklin as minister to France, and witnessed the beginning (1789) of the French Revolution, to which he was sympathetic. His unsuccessful attempt, with John Adams, to negotiate a trade treaty with England left him convinced of that country's essential selfishness. On his return he became (1790) Secretary of State. Though absent when the Constitution was drafted and adopted, Jefferson gave his support to a stronger central government and to the Constitution, particularly with the addition of the Bill of Rights. He failed to realize the power that conservatives had attained in his absence, and he did not seem aware at first of the threat to agrarian interests posed by measures advocated by Alexander Hamilton. He would call himself neither a Federalist nor an Anti-Federalist, and was anxious to secure unity and cooperation in the new government. Jefferson did not begin to differ with Hamilton until they clashed as to the way to persuade England to release the Northwest Territory forts, still held in violation of the 1783 Treaty of Paris. Jefferson favored the application of economic pressure by forbidding imports from England, but Hamilton objected, fearing that the resulting loss of revenue would endanger his plans for the nation's financial structure. Jefferson next opposed Hamilton by declaring against his Bank of the United States scheme on the ground that the Constitution did not specifically authorize it, rejecting the doctrine of "implied powers," invoked by Hamilton's supporters. In both these encounters Hamilton, to Jefferson's chagrin, emerged the victor. Fearing a return to monarchist ideals, if not to actual monarchy, Jefferson became virtual leader of the Anti-Federalist forces. He drew to himself a group of like-minded men who began to call themselves Republicans—a group to which the present Democratic party traces its origin. An organization was developed, and the National Gazette, edited by Philip Freneau, was established (1791) to disseminate Republican sentiments. Jefferson and Hamilton, from being suspicious of each other, became openly antagonistic, and President George Washington was unable to reconcile them. In 1793, Jefferson left the cabinet. Later he bitterly criticized Jay's Treaty, which compromised the issues with Great Britain in ways outlined by Hamilton. Jefferson's party was able to elect him Vice President in 1796, when that office was still filled by the person who ran second in the presidential race. He took little part in the administration but presided over the Senate and wrote A Manual of Parliamentary Practice (1801). His followers kept up their agitation and under Jefferson's direction extended the party's following both territorially and numerically, while the Federalists drifted into dissension. The passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts immensely stimulated newspaper discussion, and Jefferson drafted, in protest against these laws, the Kentucky Resolutions (see Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions), the first statement of the states' rights interpretation of the Constitution.

President

The Republicans triumphed easily at the polls in what is sometimes called "the Revolution of 1800," but in the Electoral College vote, Aaron Burr (who had been slated for the office of Vice President) was found to have tied Jefferson for President. The choice was automatically left to the House of Representatives, where Jefferson was elected after a long deadlock, largely because Hamilton advised the Federalists to support Jefferson as less dangerous than Burr. Jefferson was the first President inaugurated in Washington, D.C., a city he had helped to plan. He instituted a republican simplicity in the new capital, cut expenditures in all branches of government, replaced Federalist appointees with Republicans, and sought to curb the powers of the judiciary, where he felt that the Federalists were attempting to entrench their philosophy. He believed that the federal government should be concerned mostly with foreign affairs, leaving the states and local governments free to administer local matters. Despite his contention that the Constitution must be interpreted strictly, he pushed through the Louisiana Purchase, even though such an action was nowhere expressly authorized. His eager interest in the West and in exploration had already led him to plan and organize the Lewis and Clark expedition. He held that West Florida was included in the Louisiana Purchase, but his attempts to secure Spanish agreement caused rifts in the party and made him the butt of sarcastic attacks by John Randolph in Congress. During his second administration, however, the chief difficulties resulted from attacks on neutral American shipping by warring Britain and Napoleonic France. Jefferson placed his faith in diplomacy backed by economic pressure as represented first by the Nonimportation Act (1806) and then by the Embargo Act of 1807. To enforce them, unfortunately, meant the impoverishment of classes that had supported him and the infringement of the individual liberty he cherished. Shortly before he left office a rebellious people forced him to yield in his aims, although he maintained that the embargo had not been in effect long enough to achieve its objective.

Retirement

After 1809, Jefferson lived in retirement at his beloved Monticello, although he often advised his successors, Madison and James Monroe. One of his cherished ambitions was attained when he was able to bring about the founding of the Univ. of Virginia (see Virginia, Univ. of). President of the American Philosophical Society (1797–1815), Jefferson was a scientist, an architect, and a philosopher-statesman, vitally interested in literature, the arts, and every phase of human activity. He passionately believed that a people enlightened by education, which must be kept free, could govern themselves better under democratic-republican institutions than under any other system. After the death (1784) of his wife Martha Wayles Skelton, Jefferson did not remarry. During his White House years, Dolley Madison served as his First Lady. In the 1990s long-repeated rumors that he had fathered a child or children by the slave Sally Hemings, his wife's half-sister, appeared to be supported by DNA research. Although the subject remained controversial, in 2000 the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation concluded after an exhaustive study that Jefferson was almost certainly the father of one and quite probably of all six of Hemings's children. Some admirers of Jefferson hold that his younger brother, Randolph, is the more likely father of Hemings's descendants.

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