Unit VI – American Legal Systems
Competency Goal 6: The learner will explain why laws are needed and how they are enacted, implemented, and enforced at the
national, state, and local levels.
• Societies can keep order by developing laws over time.
• Laws may be enforced by many different agencies in order to ensure domestic tranquility.
• A government and citizens may have the responsibility of working together in making and following laws, and providing protection and
safety for our nation.
6.01 Trace the development of law in American Society.
• How have legal codes changed over time?
• What role have philosophers played in the development of law in the United States?
• Should moral codes play a role in society?
Philosophy of law
(Philosophy of Law)
British common law
English Bill of Rights
Jean Jacques Rousseau
Baron de Montesquieu
House of Burgesses
The Iroquois Nation’s
The U. S. Constitution
Codes of Hammurabi
6.02 Cite examples of common, criminal, civil, constitutional, administrative, and statutory law.
• What types of crimes fall under the various categories of law?
• Why do violations of some laws carry higher penalties than others?
• What are similarities and differences in procedure for deciding criminal and civil cases?
(Types of Law)
6.03 Identify the various procedures in the enactment, implementation, and enforcement of law.
• How do laws impact people’s lives?
• Why are so many agencies needed in order to effectively enforce the laws?
• How do American methods of law enforcement compare to those of other countries?
Enforcement of law
implementation of Law)
Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of
State Bureau of
National Guard Reserves
6.04 Identify ways citizens can be informed about laws.
• Whose responsibility is it to inform citizens about laws?
• Should citizens be held accountable for following the laws, even if they do not know they exist?
• How does an informed citizenry lead to a safer society?
“Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”
6.05 Investigate the role and responsibility of government to inform the citizenry.
• To what extent should the government keep it citizenry informed?
• What role do political debates play in a democratic society?
• Is an informed citizenry always in a better position to make sound decisions about matters affecting the nation?
Special task forces
Utilizing Government Publications & Websites
“Click it or ticket” campaigns
“Move over” laws
6.06 Analyze the role of lobby groups and special interest groups in the enactment of legislation.
• Are lobby groups a benefit or a disadvantage to the process of democracy?
• What techniques do interest groups use to influence others?
• Why was legislation (the Federal Election Campaign Act) needed in order to protect public interests from private interests?
• Labor groups
• Agricultural groups
• Professional groups
• Public Interest
• Single-Issue Interest
Chamber of Commerce
• Stacked cards
• Name calling
• Glittering generality
• Just Plain Folks
Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971
6.07 Compare responsibilities, jurisdictions, and methods of law enforcement agencies.
• Why is it necessary to have different law enforcement agencies?
• What methods do the law enforcement agencies use to maintain peace and curtail criminal activity?
• How does jurisdiction play a major role in deciding which law enforcement agency is responsible for enforcing the law?
Local Law Enforcement
State Bureau of
Dept. of Motor Vehicles
Dept. of Corrections
Federal Law Enforcement
6.08 Evaluate methods used by society to address criminal and anti-social behaviors.
• How have methods used by society to address criminal behaviors changed over time?
• What does the rate of recidivism in America imply about our society’s effectiveness in dealing with criminals?
• What factors determine how criminal and anti-social behavior will be addressed?
Confiscation of Property