Case law, also known as common law, is a legal system based on precedent, meaning that judges decide cases based on the rulings of previous judges in similar cases. This system is in contrast to civil law systems, which are based on codified laws.
Case law is important because it provides certainty https://www.loanblog.net/ and predictability to the law. When people know that judges are bound to follow precedent, they can be more confident about their legal rights and obligations. Case law also allows the law to evolve over time, as judges adapt it to new social and economic conditions.
How Case Law is Developed
Case law is developed through the process of judicial review. When a case is appealed to a higher court, the appellate court will review the decision of the lower court to determine whether it was correct. If the appellate court finds that the lower court made an error, it will reverse the decision and issue a new ruling. This new ruling will become precedent for future cases.
The Importance of Case Law
Case law is important for a number of reasons. First, it provides certainty and predictability to the law. When people know that judges are bound to follow precedent, they can be more confident about their legal rights and obligations. This helps to reduce disputes and promote social order.
Second, case law allows the law to evolve over time. As social and economic conditions change, judges can adapt the law to meet the needs of society. This flexibility is important for ensuring that the law remains fair and just.
Third, case law provides a check on the power of the legislature. If the legislature passes a law that is unfair or unjust, the courts can strike it down on constitutional grounds. This helps to protect the rights of individuals and minorities.
Examples of Case Law
Here are a few examples of landmark cases that have shaped American law:
- Marbury v. Madison (1803): This case established the principle of judicial review, which gives the courts the power to strike down laws that they find to be unconstitutional.
- Brown v. Board of Education (1954): This case overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine and ruled that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.
- Roe v. Wade (1973): This case established a woman’s right to abortion.
- Citizens United v. FEC (2010): This case allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on independent expenditures in support of or opposition to candidates in elections.
Case law is a vital part of the American legal system. It provides certainty and predictability to the law, allows the law to evolve over time, and protects individual rights. Case law is also important for holding the government accountable and ensuring that the laws passed by the legislature are fair and just.