Law is a body of rules that are adopted, enforced, and applied in society. It governs how people interact with one another and with government, and ensures that justice is provided to all.
There are four primary sources of law: the United States Constitution, federal and state statutes, administrative regulations, and case law. These interact, overlap, and work in conjunction with each other to create a robust set of legal guidance.
The Constitution lays out the basic laws of a country and establishes the government’s powers. Statutes and regulations are created by the legislature and executive branches, respectively. Case law, or judge-made law, is created by courts and often focuses on issues that have not been covered in the legislative or regulatory documents.
Various theories have been proposed for how to define law, including the “pure theory” of Hans Kelsen, who argued that law does not seek to describe what must occur but only defines certain rules that individuals must abide by. Others have argued that law should be guided by custom, because law is a part of the common consciousness (Volkgeist) of a community.
In some societies, such as those in Europe, the United States, and Australia, a legal system that is primarily based on the principles of the civil code has developed over centuries. This system of law is a combination of the traditional and the modern, and is generally considered to be superior to both the common law and the other legal traditions.