3 Modes of Jurisprudence- Common, Admiralty, & Equity Law

Definition of JURISPRUDENCE:

n. (17c) 1. Originally (in the 18th century), the study of the first principles of the natural law, the civil law, or the law of nations.Also termed jurisprudentia naturalis.  2. More modernly, the study of the general or fundamental elements of a particular legal system, as opposed to its practical and concrete details. 3. The study of legal systems in general. 4. Judicial precedents considered collectively. 5. In German literature, the whole of legal knowledge. 6. A system, body, or division of law. 7. CASELAW.”[1]

     Excerpt from Richard A. Posner’s The Problems of Jurisprudence:

   “Jurisprudence addresses the questions about law that an intelligent layperson of speculative bent – not a lawyer – might think particularly interesting.  What is law?…. Where does law come from?…. ls law an autonomous discipline?…. What is the purpose of law?…. ls law a science, a humanity, or neither?…. A practicing lawyer or a judge is apt to think questions of this sort at best irrelevant to what he does, at worst naive, impractical, even childlike (how high is up?).” [2]

    All three modes of jurisprudence (AdmiraltyEquityCommon) are mentioned in Article III Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution:

    The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

     The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;—to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;—to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States;—between a State and Citizens of another State;—between Citizens of different States;—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.”[3]

The Three Modes of Jurisprudence:

Admiralty (Maritime aka Commercial) Law

Common (Natural) Law 

Equity (Contract) Law


[1]: All definitions 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]: Richard A. Posner, The Problems of Jurisprudence 1 (1990)

[3]: Transcript of The U.S. Constitution: https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcript

How the U.S. Judicial System is Designed to Enable The People to Fix the System when used as Designed