Portal:Law

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Introduction

Iustitia ("Lady Justice") is a symbolic personification of the coercive power of a tribunal: a sword representing state authority, scales representing an objective standard, and a blindfold indicating that justice should be impartial.

Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.

A general distinction can be made between (a) civil law jurisdictions, in which a legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates their laws, and (b) common law systems, where judge-made precedent is accepted as binding law. Historically, religious laws played a significant role even in settling of secular matters, and is still used in some religious communities. Islamic Sharia law is the world's most widely used religious law, and is used as the primary legal system in some countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Selected article

A Medieval drawing of ploughing with oxen

Carucage (/ˈkærəkɪ/; Medieval Latin: carrūcāgium, from carrūca, "wheeled plough") was a medieval English land tax introduced by King Richard I in 1194, based on the size—variously calculated—of the estate owned by the taxpayer. It was a replacement for the danegeld, last imposed in 1162, which had become difficult to collect because of an increasing number of exemptions. Carucage was levied just six times: by Richard in 1194 and 1198; John, his brother and successor, in 1200; and John's son, Henry III, in 1217, 1220, and 1224, after which it was replaced by taxes on income and personal property.

The taxable value of an estate was initially assessed from the Domesday Survey, but other methods were later employed, such as valuations based on the sworn testimony of neighbours or on the number of plough-teams the taxpayer used. Carucage never raised as much as other taxes, but nevertheless helped to fund several projects. It paid the ransom for Richard's release in 1194, after he was taken prisoner by Leopold V, Duke of Austria; it covered the tax John had to pay Philip II of France in 1200 on land he inherited in that country; and it helped to finance Henry III's military campaigns in England and on continental Europe. (more...)

Selected biography

A photograph of Antonin Scalia

Antonin Scalia (born 1936) was an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. As the longest-serving justice on the Court, Scalia was the Senior Associate Justice. In 1982, he was appointed as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Ronald Reagan. In 1986, Judge Scalia was appointed by Reagan to the Supreme Court to fill the seat as associate justice vacated when Justice William Rehnquist was elevated to Chief Justice. While Rehnquist's confirmation was contentious, Scalia was asked few difficult questions by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and faced no opposition. Scalia was unanimously confirmed by the Senate, and took the bench on September 26, 1986. In his near quarter-century on the Court, Justice Scalia had staked out a conservative ideology in his opinions, advocating textualism in statutory interpretation and originalism in constitutional interpretation. He was a strong defender of the powers of the executive branch, believing presidential power should be paramount in many areas. He opposes affirmative action and other policies that treat minorities as groups. He filed separate opinions in large numbers of cases, and, in his minority opinions, often castigated the Court's majority in scathing language. (more...)

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Selected case

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students and denying black children equal educational opportunities unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which permitted segregation. The plaintiffs were thirteen parents from Topeka, Kansas, on behalf of their twenty children. The suit called for the school district to reverse its policy of racial segregation. Separate elementary schools were operated by the Topeka Board of Education under an 1879 Kansas law, which permitted (but did not require) districts to maintain separate elementary school facilities for black and white students in twelve communities with populations over 15,000. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Warren Court's unanimous (9–0) decision stated that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." As a result, de jure racial segregation was ruled a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This ruling paved the way for integration and the civil rights movement. (more...)

Selected statute

A black and white scan shows a page labelled "Regulamentul Organic" in the Romanian Cyrillic transitional alphabet. Below the title is a logo of a large bird with spread wings and a cross in its beak. Three straight black lines, incorporating flowers in the corners and in the centre of each side, are used as the page borders.

Regulamentul Organic (Romanian name, translated as Organic Statute or Organic Regulation; French: Règlement Organique, Russian: Oрганический регламент, Organichesky reglament) was a quasi-constitutional organic law enforced in 1834–1835 by the Imperial Russian authorities in Moldavia and Wallachia (the two Danubian Principalities that were to become the basis of the modern Romanian state). The onset of a common Russian protectorate which lasted until 1854, and itself in force until 1858, the document signified a partial confirmation of traditional government (including rule by the hospodars). Conservative in its scope, it also engendered a period of unprecedented reforms which provided a setting for the Westernization of local society. The Regulament offered the two Principalities their first common system of government. (more...)

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