Law

Religious influences on environmental law

Authored by: John Copeland Nagle

Routledge Handbook of Religion and Ecology

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  July  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138789579
eBook ISBN: 9781315764788
Adobe ISBN: 9781317655336

10.4324/9781315764788.ch41

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Abstract

The law has long governed human activities that affect the natural environment, even though the term “environmental law” is of much more recent vintage. The common law of property and torts provides the foundation for the evolution of the law, first in England and then in the United States. The common law first emerged during the twelfth century as judges selected by Henry II followed each other’s decisions to create a unified common law throughout England, instead of relying on different local codes. The premise of the common law is that judges are charged with identifying what the law is, which places great weight on following the precedents of cases decided by earlier courts. The common law developed rules for property and torts that still shape the law today, albeit supplemented by an increasing number of statutory and regulatory enactments.

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