The Importance of the Rule of Law

Law is the set of rules and policies that a society creates to govern itself. These laws are enforceable by government institutions or by individuals acting individually. Laws regulate activities in many different areas of life. Some laws are about things like contracts, property ownership, or the environment. Other laws deal with social and ethical issues. Laws might also be about how to use or buy something, such as a gun or car.

The exact nature of a law depends on the culture and history of a given society. Some scholars, however, argue that there are certain essential aspects to any legal system. These are known as the “Rule of Law.” The Rule of Law is a principle that, when taken seriously, requires governments to be democratically elected and to respect basic human rights. In addition, it requires that laws be understandable and publicly available and that they be reasonably stable over time.

There are many reasons why people value the Rule of Law. One reason is that it takes some of the edge off of the power that must be exercised by any political community. It makes that power less arbitrary, predictable, impersonal, or coercive, and it establishes what Fuller (1964) called a bond of reciprocity between the ruler and the ruled.

Another reason is that the Rule of Law provides a set of criteria for evaluating government policy. It enables citizens to compare the policies of different governments and to assess the quality of their rulemaking. It also helps to protect the interests of minorities and other groups that might otherwise be marginalized by a dominant group or government.

A third reason for the Rule of Law is that it makes societies more stable. When there is a law that everyone agrees on and follows, it reduces the likelihood of revolution or civil war. It also allows citizens to collaborate peacefully and productively with each other.

The Rule of Law is a complicated ideal, and scholars have debated how to define it. Most scholars agree that it includes some of the following principles: that the rules are democratically made; that the laws are understandable and public; that the laws are stable; that there is a separation of powers; and that the rule of law applies to all citizens regardless of their social class, ethnicity, or religion. A more esoteric view is that a legal system has the Rule of Law when it includes laws that prohibit cruelties and intolerances, promote good morals, and establish a balance between rights and duties.