The rule of law has been a fundamental principle in American history since the founding of our nation. It’s one of the most important ideas that shaped our country, and it continues to influence how we live today.
The rule of law is a principle that all persons, institutions, and entities are accountable to publicly promulgated laws, equally enforced and independently adjudicated. It has been described as the “supreme political value” of modern Western democracies.
This idea can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome. In both instances, it separated powers into different branches within a government. In Europe, during the Middle Ages, this concept evolved into an independent judiciary system where justice could only be served through public trials conducted by impartial judges.
There were no legal codes or statutes during this time, but rather judicial decisions made by juries passed on from generation to generation. Over time these concepts spread throughout Europe, becoming known as standard law systems adopted in many countries worldwide, including America, today.
Nowadays, legal systems in the USA include equal access for everyone without discrimination or arbitrary distinction to the legal protections available under civil and criminal law. It also implies an absence of arbitrary enforcement of these rules by private citizens or anyone that wants to.
These principles apply regardless of whether one is an ordinary citizen or an official acting in their respective offices. They undoubtedly require legislatures or courts. Judges may apply these laws through judicial discretion if so empowered, but otherwise, they can only be upheld through legislative action.
The legislative action has proved difficult historically because lawmakers often lack sufficient motivation, among other things, due to self-interest and ignorance, to implement laws and carry out legislative action.
The rule of law distinguishes countries with effective governance from those where corruption and arbitrary government prevail. In practice, the degree to which the rule of law is observed varies greatly among societies by local political conditions.