Structure of Federal System
The Constitution is the fundamental law of the United States. Each state has its own unique constitution, which uses mainly in conjunction with the main Constitution. Also, the law may be issued by Congress and local authorities. The law may be issued by the courts too. This paper will describe this legal system of USA, some of methods of the court system.
US legal system was formed under the influence of the English legal traditions. According to Stern, historically, it is derived from the English legal system. In the evolution of the American system, legal institutions that are borrowed from the British changed several times. Also, there were new legal institutions that distinguish American law from the English. There was a dualistic system that was similar to the English; the case-law in cooperation with the legislature law. For American lawyer, as well as for the English, law is first and foremost the right of judicial practice. According to Hogan, standards developed by the legislator is a real part of the system of American law only after they have been repeatedly applied and interpreted by the courts, when people can refer not to the standards, and to judicial decisions to apply them.
Federalism is a principle enshrined in the Constitution, according to which there is a rather strict division of spheres of competence of the federal authorities and the authorities of each of the states. A considerable part of states rights at the same time transferred to the federal government.
The American legal system is rooted in the English system of common (case) law, i.e., the rights created by the courts. Its fundamental principle is the principle of following judicial precedent; in the proceedings the court should follow the previously established court decisions in similar cases. However, in the United States the principle of following of precedent is not considered an absolute and judicial practice is moving towards flexible applications. At each historical stage of development of the country, it adapts to the political and socio-economic needs of the United States. A set of rules created by judicial precedents, is complements and builds upon legislation. Congress and state legislatures enact legislation on a wide range of socio-economic and political issues. Legal norms established by the legislature (the meeting), form a statutory right. It is a very significant component of American law. Nevertheless, the interpretation of laws and regulations of their application is determined by the common law, i.e. case law.
A large and growing role in American law plays administrative rule-making bodies of executive power. It is based on the authority delegated to them by the legislature. Administrative acts, like orders, regulations, directives, instructions, the main purpose of which is detailed laws, are often replace them, because in fact they have equal legal force.
A custom played a major role in the development of the US legal system. Its influence is particularly noticeable in the functioning of state institutions. Many of them are created and do not act on the basis of rules of general or statutory law, but because of the current political practice. Such important public-political institutions, as the Cabinet, the Standing Committee of Congress, political parties, are not provided by the Constitution and are not created by legislation.
An important place in the American legal system takes some institutions of equity. It appeared in England in addition to the common law. When the resolution of the dispute was not necessary rules, it was possible to apply to the special courts of justice, that have put their solutions in the form of orders. In the US, such courts existed in some states. As the legal systems of the states, the right to justice has lost independent significance, but court orders that were prohibiting or prescribing any action, are preserved and are one of the most important forms of implementing powers of the court and judicial lawmaking.
Thus, the sources of law in the American legal system are a judicial precedent, legislation, regulations enforcement authorities, custom and equity.
Despite the common sources of law, the national legal system in the US is absent: there are 50 state legal systems and there is the federal legal system separately. However, the US Constitution contains provisions allowing unify legislation and judicial practice of states to some extent. Article IV states that each state must give full trust and respect regulations and judicial decisions to any other states (The Constitution of the United States, 1787). Thus enshrines the principle of reciprocity in the application of regulations of the state government bodies of the other. Moreover, this principle applies to vertical; the federal courts are also required to have the trust and respect regulations and judicial decisions made in the states.
The unification of the legal systems of states can be carried out by Congress. However, there are other organizations that can also unify the right. Among them, the American law court, American Bar of Lawyers, and Institute of Justice. Representatives of these organizations have taken out a proposal for reform in the development of uniform standards for all states, but their proposal was rejected by local authorities. Today, every state has its own legislation, but at the same time, it is guided by the fundamental law of the country.
The ratio of federal law and regulations is determined by the state of article VI of the Constitution, which established the principle of the supremacy of federal law (the Constitution, federal laws and international treaties the United States) in relation to the regulations of the states (The Constitution of the United States, 1787). This article says that each state must comply with the legislation of United States, and it should not challenge the norms of the Constitution. In case of conflict, the states should be guided by the basic constitution, leading to a leveling of the rule of law in each state.
According to Federal Judicial Center, disputes over a compliance with legal state regulations with federal laws and the Constitution of the United States are settled in court, and relevant decisions are appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States as the supreme body of constitutional review. It is the duty of the Supreme Court and all courts in general, as well as other government agencies is a clear interpretation of the laws of the United States Constitution.
Every year in the United States are published more than 300 volumes of jurisprudence, and, despite the widespread use of modern computer technology, the search for precedents remains difficult. In several states in the US there are the Civil Codes, in 25 states there are civil procedure codes, in all states there is the Criminal Code, and in some states there are criminal procedure codes. But these codes are reproduced norms by jurisprudence, i.e. the judicial precedents.
Thus, the US legal system was influenced by legal traditions of Great Britain and historically it derives from English Common Law. In the development of the borrowed English legal institutions significant changes have undergone. There were new legal institutions that distinguished American law from the English. As a result, there is a new legal system, the specifics of which is determined by the federal structure of the state, the presence of written constitutions (US Constitution and state constitutions), as well as a number of features of socio-economic and political development.