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Principles Common Law Explained Quick and Easy

Principles Common Law

Interaction with Constitutional Law

Common law is formed on the basis that courts will make decisions based on past judgments. Cases with similar circumstances will be ruled in the same way. Oftentimes, the common law will combine with statutory and Constitutional law in order to make decisions.

The U.S. Constitution is a broad outline of rules and regulations governing how the courts should operate. Common law is an interaction between these two systems that will interpret the laws of the Constitution in order to make decisions. Although the Constitution does not allow State courts to declare things unconstitutional, it does allow judges to create new laws to a certain extent. When ruling on a case of first impression, a judge's decision will form law and become the new precedent.

Interaction w/ Statutory Law

Civil Law vs. Common Law Precedents/Stare Decisis

The basis of common law systems is that court cases will be ruled primarily based on precedent. This is referred to as stare decisis, which is a Latin phrase meaning "stand by decisions". Civil law systems do not rule based on stare decisis, but instead focus mainly on legislatures to make decisions. In common law systems, judges are bound to rule cases of similar circumstances in the same way.

There is a vertical and horizontal system to stare decisis. This means that, in the vertical system, courts are held in a hierarchy of binding precedent. The Supreme Court will hold precedence over appellate courts, and appellate courts are binding over trial courts. Precedents that are set in trial court will not be binding over higher courts.

The horizontal component to stare decisis means that State courts will obey the precedents set within circuit courts. The term super stare decisis refers to precedent that is very difficult to change.

NEXT: Quick Blurb About Common law

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