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SS.7.C.3.

10 Identify sources and types (civil, criminal,


constitutional, military) of law.

SS.7.C.3.10 Benchmark Clarification 1: Students will use examples of historical


law codes to identify how laws were created and developed in Western society.

The Code of Hammurabi was a written code of rules in the ancient society of Babylon and
dates back to 1772 B.C. Hammurabi’s code included 282 laws. Each crime was given a
specific punishment, depending on a person’s social position. These laws created order and
guided people in their everyday lives. Other societies, including the United States, have
used the Code of Hammurabi to develop their own laws.

The Magna Carta was a government document that limited the power of the king of
England. It was written by a group of English nobles in 1215 and protected the rights of the
nobility (the highest class of people in England). Much later, the American colonists thought
they should have the same rights as Englishmen. Some of the rights in the Magna Carta
were written into the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. One example is the Fifth
Amendment’s due process clause.

SS.7.C.3.10 Benchmark Clarification 2: Students will recognize constitutional,


statutory, case, and common law as sources of law.

Laws come from different sources, and they are made at the local, state, and federal
levels of government.

Based on Article Six of the U.S. Constitution, the Supremacy Clause, the higher levels of
government decide how much law making power the lower levels of government have. For
example, the national government decides how much power the states have, and states
decide how much power local governments have. The laws made at the lower levels may
not conflict with the state or national laws.

Constitutional law focuses on interpreting the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court
is the highest authority on interpreting the U.S. Constitution. Statutory laws are passed by
Congress or a state legislature. An example of this is the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Regulations are the rules a government agency makes to enforce a law. The heads of the
agency decide how the laws will be carried out. Case law means all of the decisions that
judges have made in previous court cases. Legal precedents ensure that court decisions
agree with each other. Common law is based on customs and prior legal decisions and is
used in civil cases.

The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land. States cannot create laws that
conflict with it.

SS.7.C.3.10 Benchmark Clarification 3: Students will compare civil, criminal,


constitutional, and/or military law.

There are different types of law in the United States. One type is constitutional law, which
focuses on interpreting the U.S. Constitution. Constitutional law defines the powers
between states, between the national government and the states, and between the
government and citizens.

Another type is civil law, or law that deals with relationships between people (rather than
relationships between people and the government). For example, Article I, Section 8 of the
U.S. Constitution secures the right for authors and inventors to claim their writings and
discoveries as their own work for a limited time. During that period of time, if another person
copies and claims the author or inventor’s work as their own, they may be sued.

Criminal law deals with crimes and the punishments for those crimes. People who break
state statutes are tried in state courts. People who break federal laws are tried in federal
courts. Civil and criminal law have the most effect on citizens. Juvenile law deals with
people under the age of 18 who commit crimes.

Military law only applies to people in the military. Congress created a set of criminal laws
called the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) for everyone who serves in the military.
The military has its own courts to try cases involving people in the military who commit
crimes.