Law is the system of rules and principles that governs human interactions. Laws provide a framework for society to function, and they protect people’s rights and property. Laws also ensure that everyone is treated fairly. For example, if two people claim ownership of the same piece of land, the court can decide who owns it.
The law is the basis for our democracy and is what allows us to have free speech, trial by jury and the protection of privacy. It is also the mechanism by which we hold government and private entities accountable to the people. The rule of law requires that laws be clear and publicized, stable and applied evenly. It must also be consistent with international human rights standards and norms.
Some countries have mixed legal systems that draw on civil and common law traditions, as well as on religious or customary law. This happens, for example, in India where Muslim, Hindu and Indian customary law operate alongside common law, and in Pakistan where Islamic law operates alongside both civil and common law.
Congress is the lawmaking branch of the federal government. Learn about the process of creating a bill and how it becomes a law. Read about laws and bills that have already passed through the House of Representatives and Senate, and find out how to get copies of federal records. You can also learn about impeachment and other congressional procedures.