Roman Influence On American Law

by: Jeff Kuhn


  • the law of the twelve tables was the first law code in Roman history
  • the main functions of Roman law were to settle social and economic conflicts by force, authority, and compromise
  • Romans developed difference between public law and private law
  • Roman law became the basis of most continental law


  • A republic is a government in which citizens elect representatives to rule on their behalf
  • Democracy in the US is fundamentally based off of Rome's republic in that the power of the state is limited and that there are elected representatives
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  • Casuistry is a method in applied ethics and jurisprudence, often characterized as a critique of principle- or rule-based reasoning
  • Casuistry was practiced by the Romans and became part of US lawmaking and court cases

The Compilation of Justinian

  • considered to be one of the most important contributions to American law
  • A commission of jurists to compile all existing Roman law into one body, which would serve to convey the historical tradition, culture, and language of Roman law throughout the empire
  • However, the most influential sections were the new editions to the compilation, which were given the name Corpus iuris civilis ("body of civil law"), that became the foundational source for Roman law in American law
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Http:// N.p., n.d. Web.

Infoplease. Infoplease, n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

Lloyd, Gordon. "The Signing of the American Constitution by Albert Herter." Teaching American History. Ashbrook Center, n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

Franz Wieacker, The Importance of Roman Law for Western Civilization and Western Legal Thought, 4 B.C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 257 (1981)

"Roman Legal Tradition and the Compilation of Justinian." Roman Legal Tradition and the Compilation of Justinian. University of California at Berkeley, n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

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