Public Law

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Public Law

Law Public Law

Introduction to Public Law

Public law concerns the relationships within government and those between governments and individuals. Because the Roman codes were almost entirely limited to the private area, public law is usually not codified. In civil-law countries, separate administrative courts adjudicate claims and disputes between the various branches of government and citizens, and many lawyers specialize in public law. In France, Germany, and Italy, still other courts handle constitutional issues.

Public law is not quite so clearly demarcated in the United Kingdom and the U.S. Under the common-law approach the same courts handle public and private litigation. Because the United Kingdom has no written constitution, basic principles pertaining to government powers and limits and to fundamental individual rights are found in acts of Parliament, judicial opinions, and tradition. The United States, on the other hand, has a distinct body of constitutional law.

The development of administrative law is a comparatively recent occurrence. Numerous federal and state administrative agencies now make rules that reach into all manner of activities, including licensing, regulation of trades and professions, protection of health, and promotion of welfare. Their powers emanate from legislation, and their rules are reviewable by the courts.

U.S. constitutional law is the most extensive and pervasive of any country in the world. It is embodied in the Constitution and in the opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court rendered over time. Through its power of judicial review, the Supreme Court may invalidate any legislation or other governmental actions that it finds to be in violation of the Constitution. Constitutional courts in some civil-law countries have similar powers. In the United Kingdom no equivalent judicial power exists, and Parliament is supreme. In totalitarian nations, constitutional limits on legislative power are generally a matter of political determination.

The U.S. Constitution allocates power within the federal government and between the federal and state governments. The first ten amendments (the Bill of Rights) and subsequent amendments define fundamental individual rights by placing limits on the powers of government at all levels. Through its powers of judicial review and interpretation, the Supreme Court has played a remarkable role in facilitating the growth of national power and influence by means of decisions about acts of Congress and federal administrative law. The Court has, for the most part, acted extensively to invalidate and inhibit discriminatory legislation and to adjust the relative distribution of government-connected services and revenue so as to ultimately provide for more democratic social relations. The Court, however, is frequently the center of much controversy because of widely varying interpretations about its role and the nature of constitutional law.

Laws concerning taxation and the regulation of business are in the public area, as is criminal law, which involves the exercise of governmental power by way of enforcement and punishment. Historically, criminal law in Britain included crimes defined by the courts. In the United States crimes are defined by statute, thus satisfying constitutional notions of due process. The public-law nature of the area is further emphasized by other constitutional protections such as the right of the accused to remain silent and the right to effective counsel. Criminal law not only promotes security and order but also reinforces moral norms. Debate has been continuous regarding the legitimacy of government intervention in areas where moral attitudes are in significant conflict, such as in matters of sexual practices, pornography, birth control, and euthanasia.” (1)


Public Law

This entry provides an overview of the legal framework of public law, with a description of the most significant features of public law at international level.

Related Work and Conclusions


See Also

  • Law
  • Rule of Law
  • Law System
  • Legislation


See Also

References (Papers)

  • Rationing Criminal Justice, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas, Nov 2017
  • Batteries Included: Incentivizing Energy Storage, Lindsay Breslau, Michael Croweak, Alan Witt, Oct 2017
  • Editor’s Note, Kimberly Reynolds, Ryan Schmidt, Oct 2017
  • The Paris Agreement And The International Trade Regime: Considerations For Harmonization, Charles E. Di Leva, Xiaoxin Shi, Oct 2017
  • The Law Of The Seas: A Barrier To Implementation Of Sustainable Development Goal 14, Alexi Nathan, Oct 2017
  • Lodging The Sustainable Development Goals In The International Trade Regime: From Trade Rhetoric To Trade Plethoric, Nasser Alreshaid, Oct 2017


Notes and References

Guide to Public Law

The Legal History of Public Law

This section provides an overview of Public Law


See Also

  • Legal Biography
  • Legal Traditions
  • Historical Laws
  • History of Law

Further Reading

Spanish Translation of public law

This is the legal translation of English to Spanish in relation to public law and / or a definition of this topic: Derecho Público (in Spanish, without translation of the dictionary entry).

Hierarchical Display of Public law

Law > Sources and branches of the law > Legal science
Law > International law > Public international law
Politics > Executive power and public service > Administrative law
Politics > Executive power and public service > Administrative law > Public economic law

Public law

Concept of Public law

See the dictionary definition of Public law.

Characteristics of Public law

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Translation of Public law

Thesaurus of Public law

Law > Sources and branches of the law > Legal science > Public law
Law > International law > Public international law > Public law
Politics > Executive power and public service > Administrative law > Public law
Politics > Executive power and public service > Administrative law > Public economic law > Public law

See also

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