Can They Do That?

Can They Do That?

Legal requirements apply to most every facet of life, and despite the presumption under the law that we know the specifics of every regulation that governs us, it really is impossible to keep track of all of them. As a result, the most common question I get from friends, relatives, and neighbors when things go awry is, “Can they do that?” Here is a quick explanation that will help you answer that question the next time it crosses your mind:

Legal rights and obligations are a construct of government. But for our governments, the world would be a no holds barred jumble of people scrounging and scourging to take what they want, when they want it, and from whomever they want it. Governments decide how to divide things and achieve civility, or at least they try to. In the United States, our government has established three main sources from which rights and obligations are created:

  1. The Constitution(s) – state and federal. Here, basic freedoms like freedom of speech and voting rights are recognized, and protected classes, like race, sex, and national origin, are set out.
  2. Legislation – state and federal. Acts of Congress and their derivatives (such as administrative orders) create rules about who can do what for everything from trademarks to taxes.
  3. Contracts. Our government allows parties to voluntarily agree to do pretty much anything (unless it violates number 1 or 2 above) so long as they create their contract in a way that the government says is valid.

So, the next time you need to answer the question “Can they do that,” look to these three sources. I bet you’ll find your answer. But if you can’t, give us a call. We’re here to help!

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