A federal government is what has been established in the US through its constitution. Being also termed as the national government, the federal has been assigned with some specified authorities to carry out. The states are granted with the remaining powers that were not assigned to the federal government. All the states of the United States have separate constitution, legal codes, government structure, and judiciary.
The US legal system is seen to have many layers and content when compared to other legal systems found in other countries. This is attributed to the fact that there is a division between the federal and the state law. To further have a clear understanding of this it is important to mention the fact that the USA found its independence not as one nation but as a collection of various colonies which claimed its independence from the British colony. It is, therefore, the reason why in the Declaration of Independence (of 1776), there was the mention “the good people of these colonies”.
The constitution of the United States has established a branch of the judicial at the federal government, and the authorities at the federal courts are specified too. It is through some given types of circumstances that the federal government courts are excluded in some jurisdictions, such as differences between states, federal laws, and issues pertaining foreign governments. At some point, the state courts play the same jurisdictions with the federal court. For instance, either the federal or state court may rule over a case of two parties living in two different states although the state may have exclusive jurisdictions over the larger majority of cases.
Parties are accorded the right to be tried by panel composing of 12 citizens as far as criminal case is concern. The panel will thereby apply the rule of law after hearing the evidences of the case. The fact is that many cases have been solved before they reach the jury stage which is made of the panel.
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The Supreme Court in the United States has been established through the constitution and grants Congress the power to deliver to the federal courts in the lower ranks. ?ongress has secured itself in two parts of the federal court that is the district courts and circuit courts of appeal of the U.S.
District courts of the United States are considered to those courts which are first within the federal system. In the entire nation of the United States, there are 94 district courts which basically mean that each state has at least one district court. At the district courts, the judge sits alone to hear the case, the judges who are commonly witnessed at this level have a special duty of hearing cases aligned to bankruptcy and the magistrate judges who have been accorded the duty to carry out a number of judicial responsibilities.
On the other hand, circuit courts of appeals are the next after the district courts in the rank. These types of courts are counted to up to 12 of such within the nation. This is made up of a panel of three judges from the district courts. It handles cases which were brought forward.
At the top level of the federal court is the Supreme Court that has 9 justices who jointly hear the case together. It hears cases from the circuit court of appeal and the highest state courts so long as the appeal is within the constitution of the United States.
US Legal System on the Global Perspective
On the other hand, the society of the United States is being transformed by globalization. This is because the economy of United Stated hugely relied on the international market. As a result, its market and constitution has been affected. The international market has brought about advancement in transportation, communication, and the Internet thus benefiting the US greatly. On the contrary, the 11th September, 2001 brought more harm than good. A part from that internal trade brings in pollution, terrorism, drug smuggling, refugee flows, and other criminal acts which are brought in by globalization.
Social changes, technological advancement, and economic changes have taken place since they are being pushed by the speed of transportation, communication, and information systems across the national boundaries. As a result of these, the international trade has grown, a favorable market for both, goods and services has been created, both, capital and labor are being able to be ferried beyond the borders of the United States, rises networks that operate beyond boundaries, such as crime-fighting regimes and drug cartels, and finally global impacts on the environment.
All the listed changes require some concern at the global level and have, therefore, brought about challenges to the American constitution as international law has been brought into existence that call for freedom in response. In order to limit carbon emissions, Kyoto states that the energy use should, therefore, be regulated throughout the world. In order to allow free movement of both, capital and labor, there has to be coordination between nations and also a regulation of financial of their sector. It is through such treaties that private regulations are controlled in independent sovereignty nations like the United States where each state has been delegated with the power to make laws for themselves.
American constitution has become tensed as a result of the global governance. The issue is the impact in which the international courts can affect those of the United States. For instance, questions has been asked on whether the president or the senate can pass laws at the international court to either make abortion a criminal or legal act in the international treaty or whether such cases need to be reserved for the states.
It is through the international law scholars that we realize that the demands of globalization are aimed at abnormal powers justifications to the federal government. Global warming as treaty on environment, for instance, should be addressed beyond the limits of the power of Congress. It is the turn of the World Trade Organizations to enjoy their powers so as to fully issue direct orders to the United States and thus be able to overcome the opposing policies and legal systems at the states and even the federal levels. In their argument, the scholars suggested that states at this time will have been denied the voice to respond to globalization. Courts that are believed to be democratic branch will be used by the global governance to intervene the entire government without necessarily electing a branch at the government level.
There are some judicial policies which are seen to have greater impact in the society when compared with others. There is a greater role that the judicial system plays in a country when development of policies is considered. This is not as the framers of the constitution earlier anticipated. Although this is the case, the courts of the USA are not that powerful. They were designed in a state where they had many limitations in a time where there were more political divisions than ever. If they were to be asked to produce a structure and a system which would bring reforms, it would be like asking them to forget their history. With the competition that is seen where social reforms and political strives, there is the constraints of striving to get the policy right in place. Because there are some aspects and sectors of the government that do not take on the demands of the society, these sectors will, therefore, have to turn to the courts to solve the problems that they have. The Civil Rights organizations, for example, had to look for Supreme Court in order to solve the human rights after being in a state of mark timing for a long time.
United States has a legal system based on the common law and federalism. Laws are, therefore, made and enacted at the federal and state levels. A critical analysis into the US legal system based on its federalist nature outlines the following as its advantages.
Proximity of the leaders of particular states to the people they govern is one of the advantages of federalism. It gives them a clear picture of the problems the people are going through, which they also share as members of the state, hence attracts quick actions (Fabbrini, 2005).
Sharing of resources is also easier and efficient. This solves a problem on unequal distribution of resources experienced in centralized systems where most of the resources are taken to the states that are highly represented in government (Bellia, 2011).
Effective cultural representation is also achieved by federalism. People with diverse ideologies, characters, and a way of life which may be ignored by a central government are considered and dealt with according to their cultural standing in their bid to get access to the public services.
Freedom to implement policies that suit the diverse interests of a nation at state levels is also an advantage of federalism. Some issues may not need a common approach based on the affected people’s way of life; this, therefore, gives federalism an upper hand since individual states are allowed to make and implement decisions that affect them as a state (Fabbrini, 2005).
It gives a platform for testing of the laws before being implemented nationally, hence a cost effective legal system. When the central government wants to implement a law, it may first be tested in one or two states to test its effectiveness and reliability (Fabbrini, 2005).
There is a maximized utilization of resources, whereby the central government focuses more on the issues that affect the whole nation, while the region specific problems are dealt with by the local governments.
Federalism also serves to eliminate a rule by the dominant kind of situation that may lead to discrimination of the minorities, a problem experienced in most central governments. Even the very small state is vested with the right to govern itself and to contribute in the governance of the nation as a whole (Bellia, 2011).
Though viewed as a much better legal system, federalism also comes with its shortcomings:
It limits the focus and utilization of the state governments’ resources to their own regions, failing to give the nation issues more attention since they also affect them as a state.
Federalism has also been termed as a war against poverty elimination. The replicated services in the central government and the individual states are an evidence of this kind of system as being expensive and exploitative to the people.
It also leads to stiff competitions between the states, each focusing to achieve more than the other. This turns the governance system into more businesslike as opposed to an effective system that, at its own capacity, without putting much strain on its citizens seeks to provide a good platform for governance at legal order (Bellia, 2011).
Enforcement of law in a federal state is fully dependent on precedent. When this is not available the system cannot work, affecting the whole state and its issues that may extend to the central government.
A rise of contradicting policies at the state level and at the central government level is also a possible problem. Decisions on certain issues, made independently at the state, considering the people’s culture and needs may not match with those of the central government that are neutral of influence by any culture (Fabbrini, 2005).
Federalism has to some extent achieved flexibility in the governance of the United States. Though, this cannot be fully guaranteed for as it comes with its own unique challenges and limitations towards flexibility.
Its main factor that makes it flexible is its ability to adapt to changes in the state and central government platforms. Leaders must be flexible enough to change their way of thinking and approach to issues when dealing with their states and making decisions that affect the nation as a whole (Bellia, 2011).
Flexibility can also be seen in the federal legal system during resource allocation in the state and national levels. Considerations put across are not similar hence a new set of laws that govern this process, quite different from that used at state levels, is used.
However, attaining flexibility in the constitutional matters in the federal system has been a challenge. Laws applied in the states have been experienced to come in picture calling for their consideration even when the case at hand needs a national approach based on the laws of the central government (Bellia, 2011).
Diversity in the culture of the people, a factor that leads their governance systems, has also been maintained. This has made it difficult for the people to be diverse and flexible in cultural issues. The fact that their actions are measured in line with their culture limits their will to be flexible.
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