The Rule of Law in the USA


Are you a Harry Potter fan? You will relate to the next section if you answer yes. You may recall that Harry Potter, in “Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix”, was notified by the Ministry of Magic for improperly using magic in a defense attack against dementors. Remember how Dumbledore managed Hogwarts School according to specific rules and regulations? Remember how Professor Umbridge was given to the administration but was later removed due to her tyranny? These were all examples of Hogwarts following the rule of Law.

Rule of Law: A fundamental feature of the Constitution

The French expression “la principle de legality” refers to a government based on the principles and laws of Law. Sir Edward Coke was the first to coin the phrase “the rule of law.” Prof. A.V. further developed it. Dicey, in his book The Law of the Constitution (1985). This was a British development that India and the USA later adopted. The U.S. rule is a recognized concept that all citizens, institutions, authorities, entities, and individuals are responsible for publicly promulgating laws. These laws can be applied to everyone equally and are enforced equally. The adjudication must be fair and independent. All laws must comply with international human rights standards. The courts are crucial in ensuring the rule of Law is upheld. These principles are often used to rescue minorities in a state from discrimination under the laws. The American Constitution places a high value on equality before the Law. If a majority community violates the fundamental, constitutional, or legal rights of minorities, it is subject to severe punishment.

The Constitution also contains other essential elements.

The U.S. Constitution is based on the rule of Law, federalism, and the separation of power doctrine. These are just a few elements that make up the U.S. Constitution. These elements are:

The government of the people

First, the people validate and legitimize the U.S. Constitution if it benefits them and gives them fundamental rights and freedoms. The U.S. Constitution was created by and for the people. These features are also incorporated in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Constitution is not the work of the government but of the citizens who make up the government. A government without a constitution is like a power without rights.

Political responsibility

The U.S. Constitution also states that the U.S. government has a political responsibility toward the citizens of the United States and States. This responsibility is carried out through checks and balances, accountability, and transparency.

Limited government

The Constitution of the United States states that the government is limited. The Constitution limits the government’s power and prevents it from being vague or unconstitutional.

Division of powers

The U.S. Constitution also states that the powers must be final and evenly distributed to have limited government. The division of power and separation between the various government organs accomplishes this.

Bill of Rights

The U.S. Constitution can be described as a bill or rights. It is a bill of rights because it seeks to protect and provide basic rights for citizens and maintain a check on the federal government’s interference in citizens exercising these rights.

Brief history of the concept of rule of Law

The 13th century A.D. marks the beginning of the rule of Law. This was the vision of Sir Edward Coke, and Prof. A.V. Dicey, as described below. Coke and Dicey first made the concept a principle, although the roots can be traced back to several historical regulations. You can see it as:

Magna Carta (1215).

The Magna Carta (1215) Article 39 incorporated the rule of Law principles. It stated that no one shall be detained, exiled, or punished except by a legal judgment. This Article guaranteed the rights to freedom, personal liberty, and property for all citizens of the kingdom. They were protected from the arbitrary rule by the king. It also included the rule that a judge must follow the Law when deciding on a case against someone. It spoke about the importance of following the correct procedure, which we now call due procedure. This is how the U.K. established the concept of due process. It was then adopted in the USA.

Federalist Papers

James Madison wrote his Federalist Paper No. 51 in 1788. 51, James Madison wrote in his Federalist Paper No. The government is responsible for the control of the governed, and then it can also control itself. Policymakers and U.S. Constitution writers raised the issue. They decided to split the power of the government and create different branches. Since then, the division of power between the executive and legislature has been a common practice. The separation of powers in the USA was created to ensure that no organ has excessive force and is not misused. The U.S. government is protected by the separation of powers doctrine. This doctrine guarantees that no one is above the Law.

Elizabeth Stanton’s observations

Elizabeth Stanton, a prominent social activist, observed that the rule of the Law could only be maintained in a society where citizens follow and respect the Law. Stanton stressed the importance of men following and adhering to the laws. However, he stated that holding people responsible for violating the Law and penalizing them would be impossible. Stanton stressed the importance of creating rules that are easy to follow. The Law will lose the respect of its citizens, leading to disobedience, chaos, and even criminality. Respecting the Law is part of the social contract. People who obey the Law are entitled to social benefits and social order from the government.

An Insight into the Rule of Law

Rule of Law refers to the principle that “no man is above” Law. Any individual’s will or act cannot create the law. It is only possible to discover it from the existing truths of nature. The rule of Law’s fundamental principle is to keep the government in check. Rule of Law is based on the principle that government must follow the laws and regulations of the country. The due process of the Law should be followed by the government at all times. These principles protect against arbitrary government rulings and protect the public’s interests.

Theories about the rule of Law

Many theorists contributed to the development of the rule of Law in the United States. These theories were the foundation of the rule of Law. The concept evolved as society changed and it continued to evolve. These theories included:

Coke’s theory about the rule of Law

The 13th century A.D. saw Henry de Bracton declare that the King should be subject to God as well as to Law. Sir Edward Coke later developed the idea.

Sir Edward Coke stated that the rule of Law must include the following elements.

  1. It must be clear that there are no arbitrary powers, or the government using power arbitrarily.
  2. He explained the correct way to inflict punishment. Coke said that no one should be punished for violating the Law according to the rule. Coke clarified that such a violation can only be punished if it is proven and established in legal court.

These principles were the foundation of the rule-of-law concept.

Critiques of Coke’s rule of law theory

Coke’s theory about the rule of Law was the first step in the conceptualization and implementation of the rule of Law. There were some criticisms. Thomas Hobbes was a fierce critic of the theory. Thomas Hobbes criticised Coke’s theory on Common Law, pointing out the subjectivity of artificial reason and the indeterminacy it is. Hobbes called the theory a theory on artificial reason. Coke called reason the core of the theory, but Hobbes believed that reason was a well-understood concept by lawmakers and lawyers. It’s more in maxims that in usage.

Dicey’s theory about the rule of Law

Professor A.V. In his book, Dicey spoke of the rule that Law must possess the following elements.

  1. Absolute supremacy must be granted to the Law of land
  2. It must be impossible for the government to exercise arbitrary power.
  3. Arbitrariness could also be applied to the wide discretionary power of the government.

Professor Dicey said that the rule of Law is made up of these principles:

Supremacy law

Dicey stated that supremacy of laws is the most fundamental and crucial provision of rule-of-law. This principle states that no one can be penalized except for a violation of Law, and only after the breach has been legally proven in court. This principle also says that the Law is supreme, and applies to all. This principle applies to everyone, not just government officials. Everybody is responsible for adhering to the laws of their respective countries. The courts must follow the proper procedure when establishing breaches.

Equality before the Law

This principle says that no one is above the Law. Everyone is treated and seen equally by the Law. The U.S. Constitution treats all Americans equally, regardless of their class, creed, colour, or race. In the United States, equality before the Law is a high priority.

Predominance of legal spirit

Legal spirit is the spirit of justice. This principle says that justice and Law are inseparable. This principle states that Law must be followed by justice. It means that Law should conform to the Law, and not vice versa. Dicey believed that rights like the right of personal liberty and freedom should be granted through judicial precedent rather than the U.S. Constitution. The judiciary should grant rights, and the U.S. Constitution should be a consequence of those rights. It should not be considered a source of it.

Dicey’s Theory of Rule of Law Criticisms

Dicey’s theory about the rule of Law was widely accepted in 19th-century America. It was however criticized by many theorists over the years. Below are some criticisms of Dicey’s theory about the rule of Law.

Dicey claimed that the U.K. Constitution was written according to the rule of Law. G.W. opposed this. Paton. Paton opposed Dicey’s view but stated that the U.K. Constitution was the result of years worth of political struggles and learning, and not a clear, logically deduced legal theory.

Dicey emphasized the idea of equality before the Law and stated that it was an essential principle in the rule of Law. Wade and Forsyth criticized this view, pointing out the principle of rex-non-protest precarre. This was the principle that “the king cannot do any wrong.” This principle gave the ruler of the state an advantage by granting immunity from the laws in the land. Wake and Forsyth claimed that this was a violation of the principle of equality before the Law.

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