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Chapter1Edition14.docx

Chapter1Edition14.docx - Chapter 1 Law and Legal Reasoning...

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Chapter 1 Law and Legal Reasoning I NTRODUCTION (1) the law is a set of general rules, (2) that, in applying these general rules, a judge cannot always fit a case to suit a rule, so must fit (or find) a rule to suit the case, (3) that, in fitting (or finding) a rule, a judge must also supply reasons for the decision. The tension in the law between the need for stability, predictability, and continuity, and the need for change is one of the major concepts introduced in this chapter. C HAPTER O UTLINE I. Business Activities and the Legal Environment A. M ANY D IFFERENT L AWS M AY A FFECT A S INGLE B USINESS D ECISION Various areas of the law can affect different aspects of a business (such as Facebook). A businessperson should know enough about the law to know when to ask for advice. B. E THICS AND B USINESS D ECISION M AKING Ethics can influence business decisions. II. Sources of American Law A. C ONSTITUTIONAL L AW The federal constitution is a general document that distributes power among the branches of the government. It is the supreme law of the land. Any law that conflicts with it is invalid. The states also have constitutions, but the federal constitution prevails if their provisions conflict. B. S TATUTORY L AW Statutes and ordinances are enacted by Congress, state legislatures, and local legislative bodies. Much of the work of courts is interpreting what lawmakers meant when a law was passed and applying that law to a set of facts (a case). 1. Uniform Laws Panels of experts and scholars create uniform laws that any state’s legislature can adopt. 2. The Uniform Commercial Code The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) provides a uniform flexible set of rules that govern most commercial transactions. The UCC has been adopted by all the states (only in part in Louisiana), the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands. C. A DMINISTRATIVE L AW Administrative law consists of the rules, orders, and decisions of administrative agencies. 1. Federal Agencies Executive agencies within the cabinet departments of the executive branch are subject to the power of the president to appoint and remove their officers. The officers of independent agencies serve fixed terms and cannot be removed without just cause. 1
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2 2. State and Local Agencies These agencies are often parallel federal agencies in areas of expertise and subjects of regulation. Federal rules that conflict with state rules take precedence. D. C ASE L AW AND C OMMON L AW D OCTRINES Another basic source of American law consists of the rules of law announced in court decisions. These rules include judicial interpretations of constitutional provisions, of statutes enacted by legislatures, and of regulations created by administrative agencies. III. The Common Law Tradition American law is based on the English common law legal system. Knowledge of this tradition is necessary to students’ understanding of the nature of our legal system.
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