Is the US legal system still influenced by the British system?


Okay, I’m not a lawyer or anything but I’ve heard this idea of American law being based on English Common Law of customs and court decisions, but usually that refers to the pre-US status quo, right? So my question is kind of: do US courts cite British courts in decisions? Are there any US court cases based on principles in English law established after the US gained independence?

I hope that question makes sense, I may be struggling to articulate my thoughts.

In: 1

The U.S. uses what’s called common law, which is a legal system that’s based on English law as it existed prior to our independence from Great Britain. So our legal system is fundamentally based off of principles of English law from before our independence, but we haven’t maintained any connection since then. In other words, our legal system is based on English common law, but it’s evolved independently of English law since our independence. U.S. courts might occasionally reference English caselaw as persuasive (but not mandatory) authority or to explain the origins of our own caselaw, but it’s quite rare.

The need for laws didn’t stop at the Revolution and rather than spend years drafting thousands of new laws, they kept the existing English common law. The change was to make the US supreme court the top court rather than Privily Counsel in England.
Laws were then modified and changed over time but some times it is necessary to ask, why do we have this law and what is it’s intent? If the law was first used as part of the English common law which, in some cases goes back centuries, the court is informed but not governed by the old common law.
This is a simplified view of a fairly complex history.

The US system uses Common Law, this means that the law that exist today to a large degree is made up out of what judges have decided in the past. Some things were first decided a long time ago and are still good. Others have been replaced by newer judgments or by explicit laws written by law-makers that replace the old ones.

It is still common to cite to legal cases and principles that have been around since late medieval times.

To a lesser degree US courts can also cite and consider court cases from anywhere in the world. This doesn’t happen as often, because US precedents obviously take precedence.

You are on the right track. The US courts do not look to current British courts for rulings, but rather to historical precedent from centuries ago to see the origin of laws and legal precedents. The legal environment during the colonial and revolutionary periods definitely influences decisions today, in various ways.