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Introduction to the Law and Legal System

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1 Introduction to the Law and Legal System
Chapter 1

2 What is Law? Rules and regulations made and enforced by government that regulate the conduct of people within a society. Parental Laws: Chores, Bedtime Government Laws

3 Every society in history has had them
Without Laws = Confusion and Chaos No one can be above the Law

4 Laws and Values Law’s reflect society’s values
Murder, theft, rape etc.

5 Class Discussion Question
Think of a normal day and write down at least 5 activities that you are engaged in during the day. After coming up with those 5 activities, list some laws that you are familiar with that coincide or go along with these activities. What is the purpose of the laws you have identified? Would you change any of these laws?

6 Goals of the legal system
Protect basic human rights Promote fairness Help resolve conflicts Promote order and stability Promote desirable social and economic behavior Represent the will of the majority Protect the rights of minorities

7 Interpretation of Law There are laws against murder, but what about the case of self defense? What about during times of war? What about abortion?

8 Law and Values Con’t Laws must balance rights with responsibilities, the will of the majority with the rights of the minority, the need for order with the need for basic human rights. Laws can be based on moral, economic, political, or social values. As values change, so can laws.

9 Law and Values Con’t Moral values deal with fundamental questions of right and wrong. For example: Laws against killing promote society’s primary moral value—the protection of life. However, some things that are considered immoral may not violate the law QUESTION: What are some immoral actions that may not be against the law?

10 Law and Values Con’t Economic values deal with the accumulation, preservation, use, and distribution of wealth. Many laws promote economic values by encouraging certain economic decisions and discouraging others. For example: The law encourages home ownership by giving tax benefits to people who borrow money to pay for a home.

11 Law and Values Con’t Political values reflect the relationship between government and individuals. Laws making it easier to vote promote citizen participation in the political process, a basic American political value.

12 Law and Values Con’t Social values concern issues that are important to society. For example: It is an American social value that all students be provided with free public education through high school. Like other values, social values can change. In the past society believed that school sports were not as important for girls as for boys. Today, laws require schools to provide females with sports opportunities similar to those offered to males.

13 Laws/Society Laws cannot solve all of society’s problems
Example: Prohibition Act 1919 made alcohol illegal



16 Human Rights Human rights are the rights all people have just because they are human beings. To advocate human rights is to demand that the dignity of all people be respected. Both government and private individuals can violate human rights. Human rights apply in people’s homes, schools, and workplaces.

17 Human Rights Con’t The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a statement of human rights which has been agreed to by almost every country. First written and adopted by the United Nations in 1948 under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt. Today every country that belongs to the UN agrees to promote, recognize, and observe these rights.

18 Human Rights Con’t Two other major treaties include:
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (which protects rights such as freedoms of speech, religion, and press and the right to participate in government) The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (which provides for rights such as the right to adequate education, food, housing, and health care)

19 Constitutional Framework
Constitution = Highest Law of The Land Key is Limited Government Government can only pass laws listed in Article I of Constitution

20 Executive Branch Legislative Branch Judicial Branch
Separation of Powers Executive Branch Legislative Branch Judicial Branch

21 The Executive Branch (The President and Federal Agencies)
They enforce the laws

22 The Legislative Branch
(Congress) House of Representatives and the Senate They pass the laws

23 The Judicial Branch The Courts They interpret the laws
The Supreme Court

24 Checks and Balances This system assures that one branch cannot become too powerful. Examples: Executive branch can veto laws made by Congress. Judicial branch can declare laws unconstitutional. Legislative branch can impeach the President. Executive branch can choose members of Judicial.



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