Common Law – body of royal decrees, customs, and judicial decisions based on moral reason instead of statutes or constitutions

common law:
adj. (1848)

1. Of, relating to, involving, or according to the common law <common~law doctrine>.”

common law:
n. [fr. Law French commen ley}! “common law”]
( 14c)

l. The body of law derived from judicial decisions, rather than from statutes or constitutions; CASELAW <federal common law>.

     Excerpt from Patrick Devlin’s The Judge (1979):

     “Historically, [the common law] is made quite differently from the Continental code.  The code precedes judgments; the common law follows them.  The code articulates in chapters, sections, and paragraphs the rules in accordance with which judgments are given.  The common law on the other hand is inarticulate until it is expressed in a judgment.  Where the code governs, it is the judge’s duty to ascertain the law from the words which the code uses.  Where the common law governs, the judge, in what is now the forgotten past, decided the case in accordance with morality and custom and later judges followed his decision.  They did not do so by construing the words of his judgment.  They looked for the reason which had made him decide the case the way he did, the ratio decidendi as it came to be called.  Thus it was the principle of the case, not the words, which went into the common law. so historically the common law is much less fettering than a code. [6]

federal common law:

1. The body of decisional law derived from federal courts when adjudicating federal questions and other matters of federal concern, such as is disputes between the states and foreign relations, but excluding all cases governed by state law.  *  An example is the nonstatutory law applying to interstate streams of commerce.

general federal common law:

1. Hist. In the period before Erie v. Tompkins, 304 11.8. 64, 58 S.Ct, 817 (1938), the judge-made law developed by federal courts in deciding disputes in diversity-of-citizenship cases.  *  Since Erie, a federal court has been bound to apply the substantive law of the state in which it sits. So even though there is a “federal common law,” there is no longer a general federal common law applicable to all disputes heard in federal court.

common law:
(second definition)

2. The body of law based on the English legal system, as distinct from a civil-law system; the general Anglo American system of legal concepts, together with the techniques of applying them, that form the basis of the law in jurisdictions where the system applies <all states except Louisiana have the common law as their legal system>. Cf. CIVIL LAW (7).

American common law:

1. The body of English law that was adopted as the law of the American colonies and supplemented with local enactments and judgments. 

2. The body of judge-made law that developed during and after the United States’ colonial period, especially since independence.  aka Anglo-American common law.

     Excerpt from Guardians of the Poor v. Greene (Pa. 1813):

     “Every country has its common law. Ours is composed partly of the common law of England and partly of our own usages. When our ancestors emigrated from England, they took with them such of the English principles as were convenient for the situation in which they were about to place themselves. It required time and experience to ascertain how much of the English law would be suitable to this country. By degrees, as circumstances demanded, we adopted the English usages, or substituted others better suited to our wants, until at length, before the time of the Revolution, we had formed a system of our own, founded in general on the English Constitution, but not without considerable variations. [8]

common law (n.):
(second definition)

3. General law common to a country as a whole, as opposed to special law that has only local application <the issue is whether the common law trumps our jurisdiction’s local rules>. – aka jus commune.

     Excerpt from John Salmond’s Jurisprudence (1947):

     “In its historical origin the term common law (jus commune) was identical in meaning with the term general law . . . . The jus commune was the general law of the land — the lex terrae — as opposed to jus speciale.  By a process of historical development, however, the common law has now become, not the entire general law, but only the residue of that law after deducting equity and statute law.  It is no longer possible, therefore, to use the expressions common law and general law as synonymous. [9]

     Excerpt from Lon L. Fuller’s Anatomy of the Law (1968):

     “[I]t is necessary to dispose briefly of a problem of nomenclature; European equivalents of the expression ‘common law’ have been used, especially in Germany, to describe an emergent system of national law, based on the Roman model, that came into existence before national parliaments undertook to enact laws for the nation as a whole.  In this use, ‘the common law’ (gemeines Recht) was used to distinguish the commonly shared tradition of Roman law from local statutes and customs. [10]

4. The body of law deriving from law courts as opposed to those sitting in equity <a mortgage founded in common 13W>.  *  The common law of England was one of the three main historical sources of English law.  The other two were legislation and equity.  The common law evolved from custom and was the body of law created by and administered by the king’s courts.  Equity developed to overcome the occasional rigidity and unfairness of the common law.  Originally the king himself granted or denied petitions in equity; later the task fell to the chancellor, and later still to the Court of Chancery.

Anglo-Saxon law:

1. The body of royal decrees and customary laws developed by the Germanic peoples who dominated England from the 5th century to 1066. [1]

    Thomas Jefferson provided a very telling quote in regards to the history of English Common Law in his letter to political reformer John Cartwright, 5 June 1824, wherein he stated:

    “I was glad to find in your book… of the Judiciary usurpation of legislative powers; for such the judges have usurped in their repeated decisions that Christianity is a part of the Common law. the proof of the contrary which you have adduced is incontrovertible, to wit, that… (continued in the below graphic)

    … (continued)… but it may amuse you to show when, and by what means they stole this law in upon us. in a case of Quare impedit in the year-book 24. H. 6. folio. 38. [anno 1458.]…[2]

In Summary:

    Common Law is based on what most people would call common sense- “Well of course that’s how things should be- that just makes sense! In fact- one of the most famous writings in American history is called Common Sense by Thomas Paine– whose writings exemplify exactly why Common Law must remain intact; it is the “Checks & Balances” of the 3 jurisdictions, designed to prevent commercial codes (see Admiralty Law which is “the law of the sea”) from circumventing The Law of The Land.  Common Law is designed to ensure that money is used “to regulate commerce” instead of being used “to enslave people beneath the often otherwise subversive laws of economics”.  Here’s an excerpt from Paine‘s famous pamphlet which circulated throughout the Colonies from 1775-1776, called Common Sense:

     “Mankind being originally equals in the order of creation, the equality could only be destroyed by some subsequent circumstance; the distinctions of rich- and poor.  Oppression is often the consequence… of riches.

     Male & female are the distinctions of nature, good & bad the distinctions of heaven; but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, & distinguished like some new species- is worth investigating, & whether they are the means of happiness or of the misery to mankind… the evils of hereditary succession…

     Men who look upon themselves born to reign, & others to obey, soon grow insolent (showing rude & arrogant lack of respect)… their minds are early poisoned by importance… when they succeed to the government they are frequently the most ignorant & unfit of any throughout the dominions. [3]

    When most people think of the legal system, they think of the Bill of Rights, Treaties with Native Americans“Gold Standard” currency — & so on.  However, sometimes laws don’t make sense.  They aren’t just Maybe a Supreme Court Ruling appears immoral.  That is the beauty of the royal common law.  If you can articulate your rationale into a form which makes moral and logistical sense — you can take bad laws off the books or go to court yourself and set a precedent by proving a previous judicial determination, act of congress, or other “law that became law” wrong.  That is why traditional common law also includes “the common sciences to which we are all bound” (i.e, gravity, physics, ecology, ethnobiology, resource management, etc.) Yep — leave it to the Germans to protect science via the legal system.  

     But not just sciences.  The right to grow your own food & work a piece of land is also protected according to U.S. common law: this is known as the right to homestead.  In fact, the term “homestead” is actually a legal term designed to protect a person who is “living with the land” from having their home foreclosed on them because they cannot afford expenses.  The notion goes that, as famous legal articulant John Locke wrote in Second Treatise of Government, Chapter V, paragraph 33:

     “Nor was this appropriation of any parcel of land, by improving it, any prejudice to any other man, since there was still enough and as good left, and more than the yet unprovided could use. So that, in effect, there was never the less left for others because of his enclosure for himself. For he that leaves as much as another can make use of, does as good as take nothing at all. Nobody could think himself injured by the drinking of another man, though he took a good draught, who had a whole river of the same water left him to quench his thirst. And the case of land and water, where there is enough of both, is perfectly the same.” [4]

Former Herrenvolk Democracy
Protectionism Gone Awry:

     While common law, in theory, contains countless merits, its history was not borne in the concept that “all men are created equal”: it is rooted in a form of protectionism which initially sought to protect its borders from being overrun by other races, & eventually devolved into slavery & colonialism.  The concept of a “master race” is a sector of common law that is blatantly contradicted by the “moral” aspects of common law, but unfortunately this concept has not yet been easy to uproot from the psyche of mankind.  Where common law fails, however, civil law stands firm in order to constitute the mission of U.S. law.

Knowledge of Traditional Common Law is Vital for Human Rights and for The Planet:

     Unlike Admiralty Law, which regulates commerce, Common Law is designed to protect “the common person” from commercial overreach.  “Natural rights”- the right to responsibly tend a piece of land & grow food in the soil (“Homesteading”), the right to forage, fish, or hunt (“subsistence” aka “survival”)- these are not more concepts- they’re also legal terms.  Below is a short list of “common law” legal terms, followed by common law procedural knowledge which helps explain how to apply these terms through the courts in order to have your rights enforced.

Right to Homestead – the right to occupy land for use as a home, wherein the land house, and outbuildings are exempt from execution an forced sale for collection of a debt by creditors.

(Resources for Homesteaders)


(18c) 1. Someone who settles on property without any legal claim or title.  2. Someone who settles on public land under a government regulation allowing the person to acquire title upon fulfilling specified conditions.”

squatter’s rights:

(1855) The right to acquire title to real property by adverse possession, or by preemption of public lands.”

(several more common law terms coming very soon)

     There are 11 Forms of Action according to traditional common law.  Today, these 11 forms of action have been simplified into the modern Civil Action.

A Great Political Conundrum of Our Era:

     Traditionally, under English Common law, there must be “A Verified Complaint from a Damaged Party” in order to prosecute someone.  Today, the Common Law system has been simplified into the modern Civil Law system.  Once a Complaint is filed, the Defendant is guaranteed their inalienable “5th Amendment Right to Due Process”- meaning they “get their day in court” & cannot be prosecuted based on allegations alone- one must “prove the facts in court”.  The “fact based” legal system is designed to prevent innocent people from being prosecuted as has been done historically) based upon mere allegations (accusations).  Many Europeans & others were murdered historically after being accused of being “witches” or “pagans” & other non-sense like that.  We are an “evidence & fact” based system in order to prevent manipulative predators from hurting innocent people.  You may be accused of a crime, but here in America you have a “right to due process”- so don’t be afraid of the courts!

     As for “Common Law Courts”, anytime someone is charged under the Common Law, there must be a “damaged party”. You are free under Common Law to do anything you please, as long as you do not infringe on the life, liberty, or property of someone else.  You have a right to make a fool of yourself provided you do not infringe on the life, liberty, or property of someone else.  For instance, when you cross over the state lines in most states, you will see a sign which says, ” BUCKLE YOUR SEAT BELTS – IT’S THE LAW. ”  This cannot be Common Law, because who would you injure if you did not buckle up? Nobody. Being made to buckle up is a form of compelled performance- but Common Law cannot compel performance.

     Any violation of Common Law is a CRIMINAL ACT , & is punishable.  The stipulation, however, is that under Common Law the Officers must be able to present “a verified complaint from a damaged party”; if they are unable to present such complaint, then they went outside their jurisdiction, & the accused must not only be found innocent, but they also then have the Right to collect Restitution for damages & for “Personal Injury” via performing a “Civil Action”. [4]

Definition of PERSONAL INJURY:

A non physical injury that occurs due to wrongful eviction, slander, false arrest or by violating the right to privacy of any person.


[1]: All definitions, unless otherwise specified, from Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]:  National Archives, Founders Online, “Letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 5 June 1824”:

[3]: “Common Sense, Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession” by Thomas Paine:

[4]:  John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, Chapter V, paragraph 33:


[2] Patrick Devlin, The Judge 177 (1979).

[3]: Guardians of the Poor v. Greene, 5 Binn. 554, 557 (Pa. 1813).

[4]: John Salmond, Jurisprudence 97 (Glanville L. Williams ed., 10th ed. 1947).

[5]:  Lon L. Fuller, Anatomy of the Law 133 (1968).

 [6]: “The U.C.C. Connection” by Howard Freeman: