"Law" is a word of illimitable use in both its popular and its technical sense.1 In its broader sense it is best defined as a rule of action, and in this sense the term is used in all sciences. In its more technical sense a law is a rule of civil conduct prescribed by the law-making power in the state.2

Some other definitions of law which have been given are as follows: "A rule of civil conduct prescribed by the supreme power in a state, commanding what is right and prohibiting what is wrong."3

"The laws of a commonwealth * * * * are those rules and principles of conduct which the governing power in a community recognizes as the rules and principles which it will enforce or sanction, and according to which it will regulate, limit, or protect the conduct of its members." 4

"The term law, as used in this constitutional provision, embraces all legal and equitable rules defining human rights and duties and providing for their enforcement; not only as between man and man, but also between the state and its citizens." 5

The Supreme Court of the United States has defined the laws of a state to be "the rules and enactments promulgated by the legislative authority thereof, or long-established local customs having the force of laws."6

1 25 Cyc, 163.

2 18 American & English Enc. of Law, 569.

3 Blackstone, Com., 14.

4 Bouvier, Law Dictionary.

6 Jenkins vs. Ballantyne, 8 Utah, 247. • Swift vs. Tyson, 16 Peters, 18.

No uniform definition of this term has ever been accepted and many sharp controversies have taken place on this point between different law writers.

On the proper purpose of laws there is less ground for a difference of opinion. The only sound basis for any law is the general good of the community which is to be governed thereby. The Supreme Court of the United States has thus expressed its opinion on this point: "All laws, all political institutions, are dispositions for the future, and their professed object is to afford a steady and permanent security to the interests of society;" 7 and again, "Arbitrary power, enforcing its edicts to the injury of the persons and property of its subjects, is not law, whether manifested as the decree of a personal monarch or of an impersonal multitude." 8

The laws of an absolute monarchy, however, are the general rules or edicts issued at the pleasure of the king or emperor.9 In a constitutional country the laws are the expression, either directly or indirectly, of the will of the people, or more strictly, of that portion of the people to whom a share in the government is given.

Society is only made possible by law, and "the supremacy of the law is the foundation upon which our institutions rest." 10 A law, at least in a constitutional country, must be of general application. If a rule of law is settled the courts cannot disregard it because they consider it unjust 11 or inconvenient.12 The proper remedy in such a case is in the hands of the legislative department. Macaulay has well said that breaking a law for a good purpose is as dangerous as breaking it for a bad purpose, because in the first case a precedent is formed, with popular approval, which is sure to be followed later for bad purposes. "It is a fundamental principle in our government, that no individual, whether in office or out of office, is above the law. In this our safety consists." 13

7 Rector etc. of Christ Church vs. Philadelphia County, 24 Howard, 302.

Hurtado vs. California, 110 U. S., 536.

United States vs. Arredondo, 6 Peters, 714.

10 Northern Securities Company vs.

U. S., 193 U. S., 350.

11 Childress vs. Emory, 8 Wheaton, 672. 18 Ex parte Kearney, 7 Wheaton, 45.