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The Law and Federal, State, and Local Courts, The Role of Law in Society

favoritism, American lives, branch of government, amendments, rule of law

Under the rule of law, the United States is bound by regulations that govern various interactions among individuals, groups, and governmental bodies. These regulations are ideally applied to all without favoritism. Laws can be changed only through a formal, established system of new legislation or amendments to state or federal constitutions. In contrast to the procedures followed by some undemocratic governments, individuals or groups cannot arbitrarily change accepted laws and ways of dealing with citizens.

In framing and ratifying the Constitution, Americans adopted the idea that theirs was a government of laws, not men. The rule of law promised predictability in American lives by placing limits on the power that the government exercised. By applying checks and balances to prevent one branch of government from gaining too much power, the Founders tried to ensure that laws were fairly created and enforced. Thus while in earlier societies the state had made law, in the United States the law—in the form of the Constitution—created the state.

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