Week 1 Lecture Notes, Chapter I, and part of Chapter 2
This first week, we’ll be exploring basic background information about the
American legal system.
I am not going to provide any additional lecture notes
about the historical perspective of our law, provided in pp.2-4 of your text, but it’s
important to understand that historically, we’ve had different approaches to the
law over the last few centuries, which have affected the law as we know it, today,
as well as how laws affect how we conduct our business.
We’ll also further
explore ethics and business decision-making later in the course.
For now, we
need to figure out where we get our current laws.
To do that, we’ll need to dig
back (for some of us, that will be a stretch!) to what was called “civics class”
when I was in high school.
Do you remember the three branches of government,
and the function of each?
I’ve listed the
three branches of government
, and their functions,
Even though the legislative branch is supposed to be making the laws, the other
branches also contribute to the great body of law that fuels the American legal
system, as does the Constitution (and both the United States (U.S.) and
Washington State (WA) have constitutions).
So we have four primary contributors to, or components of, two parallel legal
systems (federal (U.S.) and state (WA)):
The Executive Branch
THE CONSTITUTION AS A SOURCE OF LAW
You can find the U.S. Constitution in the appendices of your text (Appendix B,
beginning at p.A-4, in the back of the text).
It’s an amazing document—over 200
years ago, our forefathers used it to create the three branches of government,
give powers to each branch, and make sure the system operated with checks
Take a moment to check it out!
And remember, there are
amendments (changes—usually additions) to the Constitution that have occurred
over the years, including the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution
Bill of Rights
Check to see how many other
amendments have been made to the U.S. Constitution (each one gets its own