The Rule of Law


What is the concept of the rule of law? Isn’t it the same thing to have laws and rules? The rule of law can be defined as the rules that regulate the law. The rule of law is the legal notion that a nation should be ruled by law rather than arbitrary decisions made by individual government officials. It largely relates to the legal system’s influence and power in society, notably as a limitation on behaviour, including that of government officials. The statement may be traced back to sixteenth-century Britain, and Scottish theologian Samuel Rutherford used it in his argument against kings’ divine authority in the following century. Ancient philosophers such as Aristotle, who said, “Law should govern,” were familiar with the notion, if not the expression.

Every individual, even parliamentarians, is subject to the law under the rule of law. The rule of law, in this meaning, contrasts with an autocracy, dictatorship, or oligarchy, in which the rulers are deemed above the law. Because of neglect or ignorance of the law, for example, the rule of law can be found in both democracies and dictatorships, and the rule of law is more likely to decline if a government has insufficient corrective procedures for restoring it. If you’ve ever read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (or watched the movie), you’re familiar with the Queen of Hearts crying, “Off with their heads!” at the least infringement or offence, you have some concept of what it’s like to live in a society where the rule of law doesn’t apply.

The United States’ rule of law system is enshrined in the United States Constitution. The United States Constitution became the law of the land well over two centuries ago, and the document’s precepts are still in effect today. The way the Constitution is applied, on the other hand, has always been up to interpretation by the courts. The interpretations offered by the courts change throughout time as circumstances and public opinion change. It may be necessary to update the Constitution from time to time to keep up with changes in the country’s ideas and values.

Law’s Beginnings

The founding fathers of the United States did not develop the concept of a legal system. Written laws date back to ancient Mesopotamian culture, which flourished long before the Bible was written or Greek or Roman empires bloomed. In reality, tablets from the ancient city of Ebla are the first known evidence of a legal system (Tell Mardikh in modern-day Syria). They were created around 2400 BCE. Most scholars, however, credit Hammurabi’s Code with establishing written rules and a formal legal system. You’ve probably heard one of Hammurabi’s laws: “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” Hammurabi’s Code, a compilation of 282 laws written on an upright stone pillar, comprises several essential legal concepts that are still used today. In reality, Hammurabi’s motivation for writing this law isn’t all that unlike to our modern legal system. Hammurabi states in his introduction that he enacts these rules “to establish the rule of righteousness in the nation, to remove the wicked and evil-doers, and to prevent the strong from harming the weak.”

Regulating the definition

Regulation encompasses a wide range of meanings that cannot be reduced to a single notion. Regulation refers to the enactment of specific regulations in the sphere of public policy, which is usually supported by an authority mechanism for monitoring and enforcing compliance. As a result, in the United States, for example, the study of regulation has long been associated with the study of the autonomous bodies charged with implementing it. It refers to the state’s attempt to steer the economy, either narrowly defined as the imposition of economic controls on private enterprise behaviour or more widely characterised as various governmental instruments such as taxation or disclosure requirements. The state’s attempt to intervene in private activities is emphasised in both senses.

A third definition of regulation focuses on all forms of social control, whether deliberate or unintentional, and goes beyond an interest in the state. This concept is often used in anthropology, sociolegal studies, and international relations since it encompasses mechanisms such as voluntary agreements or standards that exercise social control outside the reach of a sovereign state and are not necessarily intended as a guiding act.