Law is the body of rules and regulations governing people and their activities. They are usually made by the government, and violating them can result in a punishment such as fines or jail time. Law can refer to an individual law, a specific set of laws, or to the laws of an entire nation. For example, saying that murder is against the law means that it is forbidden to commit that crime in a specific geographic area.
A legal theory can be categorized into two distinct categories: common law and civil law. The common law system recognizes decisions of both the executive and judicial branches as law. It also includes the doctrine of precedent, which states that decisions of a higher court bind lower courts and future decisions of the same court. On the other hand, the civil law system recognizes both judicial decisions and legislative statutes as valid sources of law. Moreover, laws in civil law systems are shorter and less detailed than those of common law.
Among the rights protected by the law, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition. These rights are essential to the American system of government. Courts may hear both sides of a controversial issue if it is of a public nature.