Law’s Function as a Symbol in America

The United States of America is an extraordinarily unique country, one created by and for the people, rather than any one individual. Ours is a government of institutions and laws, binding each American together, and holding us all accountable to one another. Above all else, the rule of law symbolizes the United States and her citizens, as well as its commitment to upholding the international order.

Few other nations benefit from the liberties and freedom enjoyed each day by Americans, and few things are held in such high reverence in the U.S. as our judiciary system. It’s then worth asking how, exactly, law has come to symbolize our nation and its people.

There is no finer example nor greater power of American law than the United States Constitution. This document, penned by our founders and relied upon throughout our history as a legal compass, has built the very foundation of our country. Americans rightly view the Constitution and principles instilled within it as the bedrock of our nation, though seldom do we appreciate the lengths to which it goes to protect us.

Everywhere one looks in America, there is law; our courthouses and statehouses dot our maps, and Americans are regularly exposed to law in their media and everyday experiences. Whether it’s being tried by a jury of your peers, or merely being bombarded with advertisements for legal services on your way to work, we all find ourselves immersed in a world of law.
From our nation’s inception, our government officials have derived their authority not from a divine mandate, but rather the will of the people. This principle, enumerated in Article I of the constitution as it establishes the House of Representatives, has driven the United States to become the international role model of the rule of law. Time and time again, other nations have formulated their constitutions, governments, and guiding national principles with the assistant of the United States.

Our constitution serving as an example for others is perhaps best seen in the nation of Japan, which, after world war II, formulated a constitution based not only on its own national principles, but those of the American Constitution. Time and time again, our courts, legal documents, and rich judicial history has served as an example around the globe.

Countless times throughout American history, the people of the United States have fallen back on the symbol and power of their judicial system to rescue them from tyranny. Two presidents have been impeached, and countless instances of discrimination have been struck down, all through the vital institutions of the judiciary.

Law has become more than a guiding principle of life; these days, the law in the United States serves as a cultural icon, an ever-present reminder that our government is one of, by, and for the people.

How have you seen law function as a symbol in the United States? How would our nation be different without our judicial system? Leave a comment below!