What Are the Four Pillars of Law?


The term "Four Pillars of Law" crops up in a number of contexts, in relation to global law, United States organic constitutional law, laws in the workplace and more. No confirmed and absolute set of four legal pillars exists; rather, the term appears relative to context. Often times, individual experts, authors or a select group of individuals with common beliefs concoct a set of four pillars to promote a particular political theory or philosophy.

Four Pillars of Global Law

  • Various resources make reference to four pillars of global law. In the book "The Pillars of Global Law," for example, author Giuliana Ziccardi Capaldo outlines four abstract notions that she posits as the necessary building blocks for universal law. These pillars are verticality, legality, integration and collective guarantees. Vertical systems work like the United States government, with local and federal authorities working on vertical levels. Integrated governments work together to create laws, as most governments in developed nations do. Collective guarantees protect the rights of all citizens.

    The book "Making the Law Work for Everyone," developed and published by the United Nations, posits four concrete pillars of global law: access to justice and the rule of law; property rights; labor rights and business rights. According to the book, all rights must be equally apportioned amongst the full spectrum of global citizenry to work properly.

Four Pillars of United States Law

  • Author Richard Howard Cox suggests that four pillars of law exist within the United States. These pillars, all written documents, outline the organic, or naturally evolved, laws of the Untied States. The documents are the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the Articles of the Confederation and the Northwest Ordinance. The Articles of Confederation formed the first constitution in the United States by creating a basic federal government and alliance between the colonies during the Revolutionary War. The Northwest Ordinance, written after the Articles and before the Constitution, chartered a government for the Northwest Territory, provided rules for admitting new states to the Union and created a basic bill of rights. The document was based on the Ordinance of 1784, written by Thomas Jefferson.

Four Pillars of Work Law

  • Law professor Orly Lobel outlines four pillars of work law in her paper "The Four Pillars of Work Law." These pillars are employment law, labor law, employment discrimination law and employment benefits law. According to Lobel, these four laws constitute the standard pillars of work law taught at colleges and universities throughout the United States. Employment law differs from labor law in that the former explores laws relating to an individual employee, from contracts to protections, while the later pertains to labor in general and includes overtime pay provisions, maximum hours employees may work in a week, child labor laws and more.

Four Pillars of Law in Other Contexts

  • The notion of four pillars in law or political belief appears in myriad contexts through out the world. Author Jon Tillman posits the Four Pillars of Libertarianism. The Four Pillars of the Green Party provide the guiding social justice beliefs behind the political party, while author Ronli Sifris suggests four pillars of gender-sensitive transitional justice in "Research Handbook on International Human Rights Law." Michael D. Greaney, director of research at Center for Economic and Social Justice suggested four pillars of natural law, or "The Four Pillars of the Just Third Way," in 2008. Four pillars of justice also appear in modern Hindu law.


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