Common Law

Black's dictionary of law is the most often cited source of legal terminology in US courts. According to this dictionary, Blackstone and Coke are reliable sources of information about the common law:

sources of the law:

The origins from which particular positive laws derive their authority and coercive force. Such are constitutions, treaties, statutes, usages, and customs. In another sense, the authoritative or reliable works, records, documents, edicts, etc., to which we are to look for an understanding of what constitutes the law. Such, for example, with reference to the Roman law, are the compilations of Justinian and the treatise of Gaius; and such, with reference to the common law, are especially the ancient reports and the works of such writers as Bracton, Littleton, Coke, Fleta, Blackstone, and others.

Black's 5th (1979)

Legislation is dependant upon sovereignty

"Sovereignty and legislature are indeed convertible terms; one cannot subsist without the other."

Commentaries on the Laws of England, William Blackstone

At common law sovereignty is based on virtue in relation to deity:

"In general, all mankind will agree that government should be reposed in such persons, in whom those qualities are most likely to be found, the perfection of which is among the attributes of him who is emphatically styled the supreme being; the three grand requisites, I mean, of wisdom, of goodness, and of power: wisdom, to discern the real interest of the community: goodness, to endeavor always to pursue that real interest; and strength, or power, to carry this knowledge and intention into action. These are the natural foundations of sovereignty, and these are the requisites that ought to be found in every well-constituted frame of government."

Commentaries on the Laws of England, William Blackstone

Other sources also provide a description of civil sovereignty; i.e. sovereignty relating to citizens or human beings.


The union and exercise of all human power possessed in a state; it is a combination of all power; it is the power to do everything in a state without accountability; to make laws, to execute and to apply them: to impose and collect taxes, and, levy, contributions; to make war or peace; to form treaties of alliance or of commerce with foreign nations, and the like. Story on the Const. sect 207.

Bouvier's 1856


The supreme, absolute, and uncontrollable power by which any independent state is governed; supreme political authority; paramount control of the constitution and frame of government and its administration; the self-sufficient source of political power, from which all specific political powers are derived; the international independence of a state, combined with the right and power of regulating its internal affairs without foreign dictation; also a political society, or state, which is sovereign and independent. The power to do everything in a state without accountability, --to make laws, to execute and to apply them, to impose and collect taxes and levy contributions, to make war or peace, to form treaties of alliance or of commerce with foreign nations, and the like. Sovereignty in government is that public authority which directs or orders what is to be done by each member associated in relation to the end of the association. It is the supreme power by which any citizen is governed and is the person or body of persons in the state to whom there is politically no superior. The necessary existence of the state and that right and power which necessarily follow is "sovereignty." By "sovereignty" in its largest sense is meant supreme, absolute, uncontrollable power, the absolute right to govern. The word which by itself comes nearest to being the definition of "sovereignty" is will or volition as applied to political affairs. City of Bisbee v. Cochise County, 52 Ariz. I , 78 P.2d 982, 986.

Black's 5th

Human beings have their origin with the humanism of the Roman Empire:


It is in precisely these terms that humanitas is first defined and pursued. Homo humanus positions himself in opposition to homo barbarus. And homo humanus means in this instance the Roman, he who embodies Roman virtus and improves himself by 'colonising' what the Greeks called paideia ... Paideia in this sense is carried over into humanitas ... It is in Rome that we encounter the first humanism. (Heidegger 1976: 320)

Humanism, Tony Davies


Above all: "appellari ceteros homines, esse solos eos, qui essent politi propriis humanitatis artibus" (De re publica I, xvii, 28).[29] "Thus, not all men are humani or demonstrate humanitas. Only in the civilization of the Roman Empire and its social order does humanitas count as an educational value and socio-ethical virtue. Those who live outside the Empire are not yet fully 'human,' they are 'barbarians'.

Hendrik Birus Link

natural rights:

Those rights then which God and nature have established, and are therefore called natural rights, such as are life and liberty, need not the aid of human laws to be more effectually invested in every man than they are; neither do they receive any additional strength when declared by the municipal laws to be inviolable. On the contrary, no human legislature has power to abridge or destroy them, unless the owner shall himself commit some act that amounts to a forfeiture.

Blackstone's Commentaries, introduction section ii

The common law has a theistic origin. An oath is an act of religion and so is naturally theistic:

lex terre:

The law of the land. The common law, or the due course of the common law; the general law of the land. Equivalent to "due process of law". In the strictest sense, trial by oath; the privilege of making oath.

Black's 5th

The common law has been theistic from the time of King Alfred the Great, who began his judgments, called dooms, with a Saxon version of the ten commandments.

According to Blackstone the only way that statute law can replace common law is by a remedial statute.

"There are three points to be considered in the construction of all remedial statutes; the old law, the mischief, and the remedy: that is, how the common law stood at the making of the act; what the mischief was, for which the common law did not provide; and what remedy the parliament has provided to cure this mischief."

Commentaries on the Laws of England, William Blackstone

"The mischiefs that have arisen to the public from inconsiderate alterations in our laws, are too obvious to be called in question; and how far they have been owing to the defective education of our senators, is a point well worthy the public attention... For, to say the truth, almost all the perplexed questions, almost all the niceties, intricacies, and delays ... owe their original not to the common law itself, but to innovations that have been made in it by acts of parliament; "overladen" (as sir Edward Coke expresses it6) "with provisos and additions, and many times on a sudden penned or corrected by men of none or very little judgment in law." This great and well experienced judge ... warmly laments the confusion introduced by ill-judging and unlearned legislators. "But if," he subjoins, "acts of parliament were after the old fashion penned, by such only as perfectly knew what the common law was before the making of any act of parliament concerning that matter, as also how far forth former statutes had provided remedy for former mischiefs, and defects discovered by experience; then should very few questions in law arise, and the learned should not so often and so much perplex their heads to make atonement and peace, by construction of law, between insensible and disagreeing words, sentences, and provisos, as they now do." And if this inconvenience was so heavily felt in the reign of queen Elizabeth, you may judge how the evil is increased in later times..."

Commentaries on the Laws of England, William Blackstone