The United States is a democratic country which relies on the rule of law to establish justice and protect constitutional rights of its citizens. The judicial system, which encompasses a network of courts, acts as a mechanism which upholds order by applying the law to resolve disputes and affects many aspects of our society, including business.
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Before the supreme law of the United States, the constitution, was adopted, justice had been established by the Articles of Confederation (Outline of the U.S. Legal System, 2004, p. 20). During that time, executive and legislative branches were not separated, and the role of the national government was performed by Congress. At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, policy makers concluded that it was necessary to create a national judiciary (Outline of the U.S. Legal System, 2004, p. 20). At the convention, the Virginia and New Jersey delegations presented two different plans which defined the legislative structure of the United States. The former plan was adopted and formed the basis of the United States judiciary as it exists today, with two systems of courts, federal and state courts.
The United States constitution divides the authority between federal and state courts (The Constitution of the United States, art. III). The federal court system is comprised of the Supreme Court and two levels of federal courts, created by Congress. The two systems of federal courts are the United States district courts and courts of appeal (The U.S. Legal System: A Short Description, n.d., p. 1). Nine judges of the Supreme Court hear appeals from lower courts in those cases if appeals concert violation of constitutional rights or federal law (The U.S. Legal System: A Short Description, n.d., p. 2).
The Supreme Court has an authority over other courts and can change the verdict given by the lower court. This fact is possible due to the concept of judicial review, which is the foundation of the legislative system. The concept of judicial review implies that the decisions of state and federal courts are subject to review and change in cases the decisions violate constitutional rights of the United States citizens or any other existing law (Kramer, 2004). The concept of the judicial review is one of the safeguards that protect defendants from prejudice and unfair treatment.
The State Court system includes state courts, the function of which varies from state to state (The U.S. Legal System: A Short Description, n.d., p. 2). Generally, most state courts have a limited jurisdiction and hear minor cases. In the state courts the decision is most often made by a single judge.
Alongside a traditional court system, a separate set of practices exist to support the resolution of legal disputes called alternative dispute resolution (ADR) (Mnookin, 1998, p. 56). ADR typically comes in a variety of forms as “mediation, arbitration, and a variety of “hybrid” processes by which a neutral facilitates the resolution of legal disputes without formal adjudication” (Mnookin, 1998, p. 56). Unlike a traditional court system, ADR can be used to find the resolution for those issues, which may not be considered appropriate for court based adjudication. In business, ADR can be used to resolve disputes between business partners or stakeholders. In addition, settlement conferences can be used to discuss and offer settlements to close the dispute without taking it to the court.
Any business operating in the United States is to comply with state and federal laws. As such, the actions of business owners and employees are guided by the laws and regulations which establish fair conditions for business operation. Several governmental agencies, such as the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, exist to monitor business activities and prevent fraudulent practices. The judicial system plays an important part in administering justice and governing fair practices in the area of business. For example, if a business attempts to mislead its clients, the clients are free to take the dispute to the court for it to be resolved. Consumer rights are also protected by the state and national constitution.
For example, the right of privacy, which is outlined in the California’s constitution, has been used in court to cases against businesses which made inappropriate requests in regard to the employee’s personal life (Rulon-Miller v. International Business Machines Corp., n.d.). In the field of radiologic technology, a variety of standards and regulations exist that regulate the work of radiologic technologists. Some states require the radiologic technologists to have a specific certification in order to operate. At the same time, as other health care professionals, radiologic technologists are “subject to both criminal and civil penalties for misconduct in the course of carrying out professional duties” (Lynn, 1999, p. 257). The decisions radiologic technologists make are based upon the law in addition to personal and professional ethics.
The law and the judiciary play an important role in a democratic society and business. A democratic society relies on the rule of law to establish justice and protect human right, and business relies on it to ensure fair business practices. In addition to traditional court system, ADR helps businesses resolve disputes in a timely manner without taking the matter to the court.
Kramer, L. (2004). The People Themselves: Popular Constitutionalism and Judicial Review. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lynn, S. (1999). Ethics and law for the radiologic technologist. Radiologic Technology, 70(3), 257-266.
Mnookin, R. (1998). Alternative Dispute Resolution. Web.
Outline of the U.S. Legal System. (2004). Web.
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The Constitution of the United States. (1787). Web.
The U.S. Legal System: A Short Description. (n.d.). Web.