The Rule of Law is a set of norms and practices that govern and protect society. It should be a publicly accessible body of knowledge so that anyone can study, internalize, and use it as a framework for conduct. Furthermore, it should be available to ordinary people so that they can settle disputes and protect themselves against abuse of power. This is achieved through the independence of the judiciary, the accountability of government officials, and the integrity of legal processes.
Defining the Rule of Law
Defining the Rule of Law is a crucial part of the process of establishing a democratic state. It ensures that government officials do not abuse their public offices to advance personal interests. It also promotes transparency and accessibility. It requires governments to publish data about the way they conduct their business and it should promote the active participation of citizens. It should also have procedures for citizens to file complaints.
Defining the Rule of Law requires that all people are treated fairly, with the same standards and considerations. The rule of law applies to every individual and is based on the supremacy of the law. However, this does not mean that everyone is treated equally.
Formal elements of the Rule of Law
The Rule of Law is a concept that refers to a society that is governed by the rule of law and subject to that law. According to philosopher Joseph Raz, “the rule of law refers to a government where the ruler is subject to the law,” and “the rule of law refers to the rule of law itself, not to the specific laws that govern each state.” In a country where the rule of law is in place, all people must be equal before the law.
One way to ensure that the Rule of Law is followed is to ensure that the law is easy to understand and accessible to everyone. Because modern law is highly technical, laypersons will often need the help of professionals. This requires the establishment of a competent legal profession and easy-to-understand law.
Substantive ideals of the Rule of Law
The Rule of Law is a set of principles that govern how a community governs itself. These principles include the processes and institutions necessary to administer laws and norms. Moreover, the Rule of Law includes substantive ideals, which are often more controversial. Specifically, these ideals include equality before the law, social justice, and economic freedom.
These ideals are all closely related to the rule of law. However, a thick rule of law definition does not allow for the gradual extension of rights. It also excludes undemocratic and exclusionary principles. As a result, at times, this rule of law definition results in significant regression.
Opponents of the Rule of Law
Opponents of the Rule of Law argue that this form of rule encourages certain vices. For example, exaggerated legalism can lead to the neglect of the political dimensions of legal conflicts. A veneration of law can also inhibit independent social assessments of policy proposals. Another problem is that official mandates can legitimize actions that are done “according to the law”, even when they are opposed by most citizens.
One way to counter this opposition is to encourage more people to speak out about the Rule of Law. The ABA calls on its members to advocate for the Rule of Law.