Rule by General Norms and the Rule of Law


The power to make laws is a function of political power. Military and political power often come together, but the former alone cannot command the latter. The political landscape varies from country to country, and so does the power to make laws. While revolts against the political-legal authority of a government are rare, they do happen.

Rule by general norms

Rule by general norms is an approach to social organization that relies on a shared set of standards and rules. These norms are shared ideas that are learned through social interaction. Some are universal, while others are specific to a group or situation. Either way, rule by general norms is based on an agreed-upon standard of value.

Separation of judicial power from executive and legislative authority

The separation of powers is a basic principle of governmental governance. It is the principle that a government must have separate branches of power: the executive, legislative, and judicial. Each branch has its own duties and responsibilities. The separation of powers is important for a democracy and, in some cases, is required by the constitution.

The separation of powers principle requires that the executive and legislative branches cannot delegate their powers to one another. This would violate the separation of powers provision of the constitution. Cases involving the delegation of legislative power include State v. Stoddard (126 Conn. 623) and H. Duys and Co. v. Tone (1913). Another case involving the delegation of legislative power to the executive is 16 AmJur 2d, Constitutional Law, SS 335. In both cases, the legislative branch was attempting to abdicate its legislative power.

Separation of substantive ideals from procedural requirements

The separation of substantive ideals and procedural requirements in law is an important principle in the Rule of Law. The separation of powers is a constitutional principle that entails independent judges and courts. The separation of powers is justified by the unhealthy concentration of power in our society, and by the distinct importance attached to different stages of the law-making and law-application process.

The Rule of Law is a system of formal and procedural principles that determine the way that a community is governed. The procedural principles concern the process through which norms are administered, and the institutions that are necessary to make this administration possible. The substantive ideals of the Rule of Law, however, are more controversial.

Problems with the Rule of Law

The Rule of Law is an ideal that is often cited as a foundation for liberal political morality. It encompasses a wide range of values, including democracy, human rights, economic freedom, social justice, and so on. The plurality of these values suggests that there is no single, universally acceptable system. However, some legal philosophers assert that the Rule of Law is distinct from democracy and that democratic values are not necessarily conducive to the Rule of Law. For example, Raz (1977) argues that the Rule of Law should focus on procedural aspects of government, rather than substantive values.

However, the Rule of Law is not without problems. It can be undermined by legislation that purports to remove legal accountability for official actions, or precludes judicial review of executive action. Although these rules may be useful in a few cases, these enactments are not a perfect solution. It is often difficult to determine the effects of specific enactments and what the law is intended to accomplish.