Essay: Origins and Characteristics

Pages: 9 (2347 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business - Law  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] That's why today America has a federalist system of government. Power is divided. The federal government has three branches: the Executive, the Judicial and the Legislative. The federal legislature is further divided into two parts -- the House and the Senate. State governments are modeled along the same lines. There are state courts, state legislatures (most have two houses as well) and a state executive, the governor.

The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law of the U.S. The Constitution is the essential framework for the organization of the American government and shapes the relationship of the federal government with the states, and citizens.

Each state has its own constitution as well, which serves as a framework for that particular sovereign state's political system. Clearly, all of these different, but related, legal systems have an impact on individuals and businesses -- including non-profit organizations -- in our society.

3. How have courts of equity merged with regular civil courts?

A court is, simply put, a governmental body that adjudicates legal disputes by interpreting and applying the law to specific cases.

In England, where much of our legal system drew its inspiration, there were once special courts of chancellery, or equity. These courts would apply different rules -- equitable rules -- to determine cases. Now, however, courts of equity have been merged with courts of law in most states.

These courts began in the middle ages with petitions to the Lord Chancellor of England, the King's prime advisor. These equity courts handled lawsuits and petitions requesting remedies other than damages, such as writs, injunctions, and specific performance.

Today in the U.S., federal bankruptcy courts are considered courts of equity.

4. American Law Institute and Restatements of Law: Impact

The American Law Institute is a scholarly, non-profit organization in the U.S. which produces research which seeks to improve the law. The Institute -- members include 4,000 lawyers, judges, and law professors -- drafts, and publishes Restatements of the Law, model statutes, and principles of law that are very influential in the courts and legislatures.

Members of ALI influence the development of the law in both established and new areas, to work with other eminent lawyers, judges, and scholars, to give back to a profession to which they are deeply dedicated, and to contribute to the public welfare.

The ALI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in Washington, D.C.

5. Impact of Napoleonic Code in Louisiana

The Napoleonic Code -- or Code Napoleon, or the Code civil des Francais) -- is the French civil code, created under Napoleon I in 1804.

French Emperor Napoleon acquired Louisiana from Spain. Louisiana became a state in 1812, but four years before that the state adopted the Napoleonic Code as its main law. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. To have done this.

The code is still the subject of cultural controversy, as witnessed by Tennessee Williams' play, A Streetcar Named Desire. In this play, Stanley Kowalski, a brutish man, lectures his long-suffering wife on the code during one dramatic scene. The part made actor Marlon Brando famous in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

"Now listen. Did you ever hear of the Napoleonic code, Stella?...Now just let me enlighten you on a point or two...Now we got here in the state of Louisiana what's known as the Napoleonic code. You see, now according to that, what belongs to the wife belongs to the husband also, and vice versa...It looks to me like you've been swindled baby. And when you get swindled under Napoleonic code, I get swindled too and I don't like to get swindled..." -- Stanley Kowalski, A Streetcar Named Desire.

So Stanley Kowalski was right. The state has a different kind of legal code -- one not based on the common law, like the system learned by Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and James Madison, as cited above. But one based on strict, written laws -- a code -- promulgated by Napoleon. The law in Louisiana also shows influences of Spanish law (as it was once a Spanish colony) and even Roman law, as the Spanish adopted their laws from the Romans, who conquered Spain.

All of these different influences -- English common law, Scottish revolutionary rhetoric, Roman law, French philosophy from the Enlightenment, and the Napoleonic Code -- shape the law and legal systems in the U.S. today. To paraphrase John Adams, cited at the beginning of this paper, the law is in the hearts of the people.

REFERENCES

1. The Inheritance of Rome, Chris Wickham, (Penguin Books Ltd. 2009)

2. John Adams, by David McCullough, (Simon & Schuster, 2001).

3. Inventing America, by Gary Wills, (1978)

4. The Scottish Invention of America, Democracy and Human Rights, by Robert Munro, et al. (2004, University Press of America.)

5. Law in America: A short history by Lawrence M. Friedman (2002, Modern Library).

6. Problems in Contract Law by Knapp, Crystal, and Prince (2007, 6th edition, Aspen Publishers)

7. Prosser, Wade and Schwartz's Torts (2005 by Foundation Press)

8. Modern Criminal Law by Wayne… [END OF PREVIEW]

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