Understanding the 4 Principles of the American Legal System

The American legal system is based on four fundamental principles that ensure freedom, order, and justice. Accountability, rule of law, constitutional supremacy, and judicial precedent are the cornerstones of the US legal system. Accountability is a complex concept in American jurisprudence. It means that both government and private actors are answerable to the law.

In the Bonham case (16), Coke established the principle of judicial review, which allows judges to declare laws null and void if they conflict with established principles of law and justice. The defining principle of common law is that courts must follow the decisions of higher-level courts within the same jurisdiction. The rule of law is a cornerstone of the American legal system. It means that all people are subject to the law, regardless of their social or political status.

This principle was a major complaint of American colonial leaders, who felt that English authorities had turned their backs on their own tradition and on respect for the rule of law. The Constitution of the United States is based on the principle of constitutional supremacy. This means that all laws must be consistent with the Constitution, and any laws that conflict with it are invalid. The Constitution also limits government power and protects people's rights and freedoms.

Judicial precedent is another important principle in the US legal system. This means that courts must follow decisions made by higher-level courts in similar cases. The principle of maxim states that parts of a court opinion that are not necessary to resolve an issue have a diminished precedent value. These four principles form the basis for understanding the American legal system.

They ensure freedom, order, and justice by holding government and private actors accountable to the law, protecting people's rights and freedoms, and providing guidance for courts when making decisions.