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12 Tables of Codes Page 1 of 13 

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Twelve Tables of Codes 


Table 01 

Table of Codes 

Table 02 

Table of Authorities 

Table 03 

Table of Revenue and Renumeration 

Table 04 

Table of Pricing Variances 

Table 05 

Table of Procurement 

Table 06 

Table of Production 

Table 07 

Table of Reverse Lookup 

Table 08 

Table of Works Consulted 

Table 09 

Table of Tweets 

Table 10 

Table of Transformative Use 

Table 11 

Table of Official Proceedings 

Table 12 

Table of Requests for Comment 

§ 1. The Right To Know 

The right to know the law, so as not to be ignorant, as ignorance of the 
law is no excuse. 

The right to speak the law, so as to inform the citizenry. 

The right to know and speak the law is the underpinning of government 
in ancient and modem times. The right to know and speak the law is the 
foundation of the doctrine of the Rule of Law, which provides: 

• First, that the laws shall be public, that the arbitrary whims of 
individual men and women have no place in a society ruled by law. 
We declare ourselves to be nations of laws, not empires of men. 

• Second, that the laws shall apply equally to all. There shall not be 
one minimum wage for people of color and another for white 
people. There shall not be one court for men and another for 
women. The vote shall not be reserved for the rich, disenfranchising 
the poor with poll taxes or other artificial barriers meant to come 
between a people and their government. 

• Third, that there shall be due process under the law. Judgment shall 
only be applied after a fair and open proceeding; you shall know the 


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charges levied against you and shall be provided counsel, so that 
you may be heard. 

When we fail to live up to the Rule of Law, we have failed as a society. 
Despots may make excuses about extraordinary times or states of 
emergency, but those reasons are given sheepishly and accepted 
grudgingly, as we all know that a government that fails to live by the 
Rule of Law is one that will eventually face the springtime of revolt. 

§ 2. The Rule of Law 

In the early days of the Roman Republic, the commoners rose against 
their aristocratic masters and demanded that the laws by which they 
would be judged should be made known. When the aristocrats resisted, 
preferring to impose the law arbitrarily, the people quit the city of Rome, 
leaving the city defenseless and without workers to keep it running. 

The great secession led in 450 BCE to the promulgation of the Twelve 
Tables of Law, which were inscribed on bronze tablets and placed in the 
agoras for all to read. All citizens were expected to read and know the 
law, indeed when the Gauls burnt the city in 390 BCE and the tablets 
were destroyed, all the schoolchildren were able to recite them from 
memory and they were easily reconstructed. 

That the laws shall be written down and promulgated for all to know was 
a universal value. In Greece, the laws of Solon were inscribed on wooden 
cylinders and placed in the markets. Aristotle stated in Politics that "the 
rule of law. . .is preferable to that of any individual. . . [H]e who bids the 
law rule may be deemed to bid God and Reason alone rule, but he who 
bids man rule adds an element of the beast; for desire is a wild beast, and 
passion perverts the minds of rulers, even when they are the best of men. 
The law is reason unaffected by desire." 

In India, Ashoka the Great ruled from 269 BCE to 23 1 BCE and 
inscribed the Code of the Dhamma on 50-foot pillars of stone throughout 
the land, declaring in Edict Number 4 "that there should be uniformity in 
law and uniformity in sentencing."Ashoka appointed Dhamma Officers 
who went out into the provinces, reading the edicts aloud to the people 
and helping them to understand his laws. 

That the law should be known to all was fundamental, but equally 
important was that the law should not be for sale. When the Barons of 1 2tables.html 


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England confronted King John in 1215 on the meadow of Runnymede, 
one of their chief complaints was that access to the courts had become 
matter of access to money and that judgments were for sale to those who 
chose to pay for them. This led to the most long-lasting provision of 
Magna Carta, one still in force in the United Kingdom and many other 
common law jurisdictions: 

Article 40: "To no one will we sell — ^to no one will we deny or 
delay — access to right or justice." 

Likewise, in Japan, the 7th-century Prince Shokotu recognized that 
access to the law and justice should not be a matter of access to money. 
In the 1 7-Article Constitution, which is also still in effect, he instructed 
all Ministers and officials of state to observe the principles he set out: 

Article 5: "Of complaints brought by the people there are a 
thousand in one day. If in one day there are so many, how many 
will there be in a series of years? If the man who is to decide suits 
at law makes gain his ordinary motive, and hears causes with a 
view to receiving bribes, then will the suits of the rich man be like 
a stone flung into water while the complaints of the poor will 
resemble water cast upon a stone. Under these circumstances the 
poor man will not know where to take their complaints." 

That all people should know their duties was expressed in China in the 
first printed book. The Diamond Sutra, which was dedicated to "universal 
free distribution." In the Chinese Buddhist tradition, one gains merit by 
copying or printing. The writing of the laws began in China in 536 BCE, 
when Xing Shu inscribed the code of punishments on a bronze tripod for 
all to see. Then, 20 years later a neighboring state inscribed the laws on 
an iron tripod, then private citizens copied them onto bamboo. For the 
next millennium, the Chinese government balanced the Confucian 
precepts of rule-by-man with the codified principles of rule-by-law. 

As new governments were formed to throw off colonial and dynastic 
yokes, equality under the law and government by Rule of Law became 
guiding principles. The U.S. Constitution enshrined equality and due 
process into the fabric of the newly United States. John Adams explained 
in his Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law that the key to making 
this experiment in democracy work would be the participation of an 
informed citizenry: 1 2tables.html 


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"Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of 
knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write. Let every 
order and degree among the people rouse their attention and 
animate their resolution. Let them all become attentive to the 
grounds and principles of government, ecclesiastical and civil. Let 
us study the law of nature; search into the spirit of the British 
constitution; read the histories of ancient ages; contemplate the 
great examples of Greece and Rome; set before us the conduct of 
our own British ancestors, who have defended for us the inherent 
rights of mankind against foreign and domestic tyrants and 
usurpers, against arbitrary kings and cruel priests, in short, against 
the gates of earth and hell." 

An informed citizenry requires the freedom to read and write the law. 
When the issue came before the U.S. Supreme Court, it ruled 
unanimously in Wheaton v. Peters (1834) that the law belonged to the 
people, not to the government and certainly not to private citizens, stating 
"no reporter has or can have any copyright in the written opinions 
delivered by this Court." 

The principle that the law belongs to the people was repeatedly affirmed. 
In Banks v. Manchester (1888), the Supreme Court rejected copyright 
claims over state court opinions. In Veeck v. Southern Bldg. Code 
Congress (2002), the 5th Circuit of the Court of Appeals rejected 
copyright claims over model building codes that were incorporated into 
law in Texas, stating "[PJublic ownership of the law means precisely that 
'the law' is in the 'public domain' for whatever use the citizens choose to 
make of it." 

In the 20th Century, governments all over the world have repeatedly 
reaffirmed the importance of the Rule of Law and of fundamental human 
rights, which include the right to know what our governments require of 
us. This right has been particularly important in the formation of the 
European Union. Article 15 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the 
European Union emphasized the"right of access to documents of the 
Union's institutions," the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European 
Union guarantees a "right of access to documents," and the Treaty of 
Amsterdam firmly reaffirmed the principle: 

Article 1: "The Union is founded on the principles of liberty, 
democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, 
and the rule of law, principles which are common to the Member 
States." 1 2tables.html 


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The courts in Europe have repeatedly reaffirmed these principles. In the 
United Kingdom, for example, in Blackpool v. Locker (1948), the King's 
Bench refused to enforce regulations that were not available for the 
public to read. In Fothergill v. Monarch Airlines{l9Sl), the House of 
Lords stated that "the need for legal certainty demands that the rules by 
which the citizen is bound should be ascertainable by him." In Sunday 
Times v. United Kingdom{\919), the European Court of Human Rights 
stated that "[T]he law must be adequately accessible: the citizen must be 
able to have an indication that is adequate in the circumstances of the 
legal rules applicable to a given case." 

The Rule of Law is not a concept limited to western or northern 
countries, to developed countries, or any other lines drawn that divide our 
world into sectors. The Rule of Law unites our world around a basic 
truth, that all human beings have basic rights. The Universal Declaration 
of Human Rights (1948) states: 

Article 19: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and 
expression; this right includes ... to seek, receive and impart 
information and ideas through any media and regardless of 

The rights of speech and expression are fundamental to any declaration of 
human rights. The right of access to justice is equally fundamental. There 
can be no human rights in any meaningful sense if we limit who is 
allowed to read the law and who is allowed to speak it. Human rights 
begin with all citizens knowing their duties and their rights under the law. 

§ 3. Code is Law 

Law has always been technical. Regulation of public safety and the 
promotion of standards for fair trade have always stood hand-in-hand 
with the regulation of the procedures of justice. When the Barons at 
Runnymede forced King John to agree to Magna Carta, the articles 
guaranteeing access to justice came right after the article proclaiming a 
system of uniform weights and measures: 

Article 35: "Let there be throughout our kingdom a single 
measure for wine and a single measure for ale and a single 
measure for com, namely 'the London quarter,' and a single width 1 2tables.html 


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of cloth (whether dyed, russet or halberjet) namely two ells within 
the selvedges and let it be the same with weights and measures." 

England was not unique. In most of the ancient edicts of government, we 
see the regulation of technology for public safety and the promotion of 
trade sitting alongside the procedures of justice, the functioning of the 
divisions of government, and other constitutional issues. In Ashoka's 
Second Edict he made provisions for the availability of important medical 
roots and Suits; in other edicts he established systems of irrigation and 
safe roads. In early Irish law we see provisions of family law sit 
alongside standards for beekeeping and the proper functioning of 

As our modem era began, the provision of the public safety became an 
increasingly important function of government. Railways helped open up 
the United States, but at a tremendous cost in lives from manual hand 
brakes and link-and-pin couplers for the cars. With the passage of the 
Railroad Safety Appliance in 1893, the number of accidents fell 
dramatically as air brakes and automatic couplers became required on all 

In American cities, children were dying because milk was being 
adulterated with fillers such as chalk and kept in grossly unsanitary 
conditions. With the passage of the Food Act of 1899, the Board of 
Agriculture was finally able to issue the 1901 Sale of Milk Regulations, 
establishing standards of purity and hygiene, followed soon after by the 
Federal Foods and Drugs Act of 1906 which established the Food and 
Drug Administration. 

Perhaps the most significant of the public safety regulations at the turn of 
the century were the fire codes. The impetus was the horrific New York 
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 191 1, where the exit doors were 
locked shut and 146 garment workers died from fire and smoke, many of 
them leaping to their deaths from the 10th floor of the factory, a scene so 
horrific that an observer called it "the day it rained children." 

The fire led to the creation of a Committee on Public Safety led by 
Frances Perkins, and with the backing of Tammany Hall's Al Smith, to 
the promulgation of mandatory fire codes. Since then, groups such as the 
National Fire Protection Association have created the high quality 
building, fire, electrical, and other public safety codes required 
throughout the world. When those codes are ignored, we see tragedies 
such as the Bangladesh Tazreen Fashions fire of 2012, a fire that bore a 1 2tables.html 


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striking and horrifying resemblance to the Triangle Shirtwaist fire 101 
years earlier. 

In our modem world, public safety regulations are a key function of 
government. Natural gas and oil, for example, power our modern cities, 
but those substances can cause grave harm. In the United States, we 
learned this repeatedly when the Texas City refinery explosion of 2005 
killed 15 and injured 170, when the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 
threw 4.9 billion gallons of oil into the Gulf, and when a 30-inch gas 
pipeline in San Bruno, California, exploded and sent a blast of fire 1 ,000 
feet high. 

Technical regulations encompass a huge swathe of our modem life, a 
natural outcome of our technical society. Building and other codes, food 
safety, hazardous materials, the environment, occupational safety in 
factories and farms, and the safety of products are all subject to these 
regulations. While some may argue there is too much regulation and 
others argue there is too little, before we can have that discussion the 
citizenry must be informed. 

§ 4. Indefensible Thunderbolts 

Ignorantia juris non excusat is the well-established doctrine that 
ignorance of the law is no excuse. That citizens must be notified of the 
laws that affect them was the genesis of the Federal Register, an official 
gazette of the United States, established after the Supreme Court mled in 
the Hot Oil Case (1935) that regulations that the government failed to 
publish were not valid. Notification of the citizenry of their rights and 
responsibilities is a requirement of lawmaking. 

In most of the world, including the United States, there has arisen a 
system for technical laws known as incorporation by reference. The 
standards governing topics such as building codes or hazardous material 
transport are developed by ostensibly private bodies. The government 
then publishes a notice in an Official Gazette incorporating these 
standards into the law, but the text of the standards must often be 
purchased from a private body. 

The private bodies that develop these standards have been delegated law- 
making authority from their governments. In most cases, these private 
bodies are created by their govemments. The British Standards 
Institution, for example, was created by a Royal Charter in 1929 and 1 2tables.html 


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represents the United Kingdom in numerous international forums, 
including the International Organization for Standardization (which it 
helped create) and the European Union's European Committee for 
Standardization (CEN). As the duly delegated agent for this form of 
European Union regulation, the British Standards Institution is required 
to adopt and publish EU standards without change, making the law 
available to citizens. The official United Kingdom repository of statutes 
lists hundreds of statutory instruments that mention British Standards 
Institution documents. 

While technical standards have the force of law, the governmental bodies 
that promulgate these standards and a series of nonprofit organizations 
that have sprung up besides them all to often maintain that the laws are 
their private property and can only be accessed after paying a fee. More 
insidiously, these organizations maintain that they continue to own the 
documents even after you have paid the fee, exercising controls such as 
restricting the ability to print the document, or copy it, or even to quote 
excerpts without their case-by-case prior written approval. 

These restrictions on use are implemented through a number of 
techniques. Many standards are only available in a shrink-wrap license, 
an agreement that claims that by opening the packaging the reader agrees 
that they don't own the document but only"license" it and agree not to 
redistribute or quote without permission. For online distribution, many 
standards come with Digital Rights Management (DRM) software that 
ties the document to a specific computer and restricts the ability to copy 
text from the standard or print it. 

These restrictions on use are proclaimed loudly and prominently, with 
watermarks being put on every page of some documents purchased, 
strident terms of use, and publicity campaigns reminiscent of the "FBI 
Warnings" stamped on the beginning of many movies. But, there is a 
world of difference between a privately created movie and a legal 
document carrying out the edicts of government. To proclaim ownership 
of edicts of government is a false proclamation, what is known in the law 
as the Doctrine of Brutum Fulmen, the use of an indefensible thunderbolt 
to make others give up their rights under the law. 

The law belongs to the people, and cannot become the private property of 
some governmental or non-governmental organization, no matter how 
seemingly well-deserved are the rents one could extract from winning a 
monopoly concession on a parcel of the law. While standards bodies need 
money to carry out their valuable work, and while it is clear that these 1 2tables.html 


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standards bodies create high-quality documents that are essential to our 
public safety, one cannot cordon off the public domain simply because of 
an institutional desire for funds. 

An examination of the financial status of standards organizations reveals 
a wide variation in composition and revenue streams. In India, for 
example, less than 4% of revenue at the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) 
comes from the sales of documents. BIS, like the British Standards 
Institution, Underwriters Laboratories, Standards New Zealand, and 
many other organizations throughout the world, have a thriving business 
in certification and testing. 

Some standards bodies, such as the National Fire Protection Association 
and the International Organization for Standardization, depend more 
heavily on the sale of standards documents. However, even in these cases 
there are many other revenue streams and there are opportunities to adjust 
the business models to more properly reflect the importance of their work 
throughout society. And, in many cases, there is room for a fresh look at 
expenses, such as million-dollar CEO salaries, some of the highest 
salaries in the non-profit world. 

Not all standards bodies have become addicted to these copious revenues 
that accompany these indefensible thunderbolts. In some countries, such 
as Thailand, Indonesia, and Ecuador, standards are freely available to 
citizens as a matter of public policy. Many standards bodies thrive on an 
open standards model, including key areas such as all the standards that 
govern the operation of the Internet created by the Internet Engineering 
Task Force and the World Wide Web Consortium, and the food safety 
standards promulgated in the Codex Alimentarius by the World Health 
Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United 

One of the most insidious aspects of the current system is the wide 
variance of the price of standards. A basket of 1 1 public safety standards 
published by the International Organization for Standardization and also 
required by the European Union was assembled and priced by 
Public.Resource.Org in the retail outlets of 42 national standards bodies. 
Even within the European Union the prices varied wildly, from $ 1 75 in 
the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to in Lithuania to $2628 for 
the same standards in the United Kingdom. Because access to the 
standards (and the national forwards to the standards) is vital for 
economic activity across national borders, the opportunistic pricing by 
money-hungry standards bodies becomes a tall barrier to trade. 1 2tables.html 


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While extracting a tax on each reader of a standards document is an 
impediment to the Rule of Law, the restriction on reuse of the documents 
is even more serious. The law is the raw material of democracy, and 
being able to work with these documents to create better ways to inform 
the citizenry is crucial to the proper workings of justice, governance, and 

In many cases, the standards promulgated by standards bodies are only 
available electronically on a web site that only works on a certain of 
browser, or as a PDF file with a plugin that only runs on certain operating 
systems. In many cases, the documents are so restricted in use that they 
won't work with software used by the visually impaired, or the searching 
capabilities are so restricted that lawyers, paralegals, policy analysts, 
legislative aides, and government officials are unable to find the passages 
they need. 

One of the most important reasons the law has no restrictions on use is so 
that innovation may flourish in the marketplace, creating better solutions 
for citizens, lawyers, government workers, and public safety 
professionals. Restrictions on reuse have frozen the format of standards 
documents inside dozens of old web sites and outmoded formats 
maintained by standards organizations, many of whom run Internet sites 
that are littered with technical errors and broken software. 

Perhaps the most troubling indefensible thunderbolts are when the law is 
kept secret and may not be consulted. In Estonia, one of the most 
advanced and democratic societies and generally an exemplar of open 
government practices, Eesti Standardikeskuse (EVS) received an order 
with payment via PayPal from Public.Resource.Org for €3,208.68 for the 
purchase of 166 technical standards required under Estonian law. The 
next day, the order was cancelled, the money returned, and a notice 
dispatched indicating that the service was being refused. When we 
inquired as to why, the answer was a curt 1-line response: 

"We would keep the circumstances to ourselves and we 
recommend to order the standards from another country." 

Even in the case of European Union regulations, which must be adopted 
by all European Union nations without change, there is a national 
foreword. Other standards are developed specifically for Estonia and are 
only available Irom EVS. Public.Resource.Org wrote to the Honorable 
Thomas Hendrik lives, the President of Estonia and a leader in open 1 2tables.html 


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government and asked him for help. When he didn't answer, we wrote to 
the President's aide, and then to the President's son, neither of whom 
answered. In a society governed by the Rule of Law, should one have to 
know the President's son to be able to purchase the law? In a modem 
democracy, should the government be able to pick and choose who shall 
know the rules? 

§ 5. This Law is Your Law 

The U.S. Copyright Office, in the Compendium of Copyright Office 
Practices, states: 

"Edicts of government, such as judicial opinions, administrative 
rulings, legislative enactments, public ordinances, and similar 
official legal documents are not copyrightable for reasons of 
public policy." 

In order to promote public education and public safety, equal justice for 
all, a better informed citizenry, the rule of law, world trade and world 
peace, Public.Resource.Org has undertaken to make technical edicts of 
government available on a noncommercial basis, as it is the right of all 
humans to know and speak the laws that govern them. 

The focus in this release is on mandatory public safety standards. In 
many nations, public safety standards are expressly mandatory. In other 
countries, elaborate dances are undertaken to protect an illusion that the 
standards are somehow voluntary, but in each of the documents published 
there is a compelling public interest and the documents have been 
promulgated under the direction of government and play a key role in 

A number of the documents released come directly from the standard 
bodies, because they make the documents available in draft or in final 
form. In other cases, such as China, the documents were submitted to the 
World Trade Organization, which maintains a portal with thousands of 
standards. These standards are made available to the public as part of the 
WTO's mandate to promote world trade by requiring fiill disclosure of the 
rules and standards governing trade with a country. 

Many of the documented released were purchased directly from standards 
organizations after careful research. Most of the standards were ordered 
in paper format. For PDF files, such as those that were obtained from the 1 2tables.html 


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World Trade Organization, the documents were fixed by properly 
embedding fonts and fixing technical errors. 

One of the most important reasons for making standards available is to 
allow for transformative uses, proving better access and utility for 
citizens. Of the standards being published, several hundred have so far 
been rekeyed and reset by Public.Resource.Org into valid HTML files. 
Many of the graphics have been redrawn into the open Scalable Vector 
Graphics (SVG) format so that the graphics can be resized and 
manipulated. Likewise, mathematical formulas are being reset into the 
Math Markup Language (MML), providing better access for the visually 
impaired and better functionality for those wishing to cut and paste 

A number of other transformative uses become possible when the 
documents have been rekeyed into valid HTML. Proper metadata is 
added to the document headers, making them accessible and discoverable 
by search engines. Access protocols such as FTP and rsync allow bulk 
access and resynchronization to large collections of standards documents. 
Digital signatures allow users to verify that the documents have not been 
modified by comparing them to a known good version of the document. 

All over the world, for centuries, nations have embraced the concept of 
the Rule of Law — the principle that prescribed law, rather than the whims 
and desires of any individual, should govern society. The Rule of Law is 
enshrined in ancient texts and in modem legislation, treaties, and judicial 
decisions. It is a central protection against tyranny and against a society 
where justice is arbitrary and some gain unfair advantage over others. 

Only if the law is truly free and available can we expect people and 
enterprises to obey the law, to know their rights under the law, and to 
evaluate and participate in the work of improving the law. Only if the law 
is accessible to all, can we truly say that a society is governed by the Rule 
of Law. 

By making technical standards governing building safety, transportation 
safety, energy safety, food and water safety, and other important areas 
readily available to all without restriction, we make society better. First 
responders and government officials can do more to protect citizens. 
Small enterprises can more easily and affordable comply with the law and 
build new businesses. Students, educators, scientists, engineers, policy 
advocates, journalists, and government workers can more easily read the 
standards and learn about technology, commerce, and government. They 1 2tables.html 


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can work to improve the standards themselves, and they can improve 
upon the accessibility and usefulness of the standards by making 
searchable databases or better navigational tools. 

Innovation and education will benefit by opening up this world, but at the 
root are basic issues of democracy and justice. We cannot tell citizens to 
obey laws that are only available for the rich to read. The current system 
acts as a poll tax on access to justice, a deliberate rationing and restriction 
of information critical to our public safety and economic progress. 

The law must be easily available to all people, access to the legal system 
and the texts that make up the law should not be bought, or sold, or 
rationed. People must have the right — an unfettered right — to read the 

People must also have the right to communicate the provisions of law to 
others — to speak the law. When Justice Stephen Breyer said,"if a law 
isn't public, it isn't a law," he was expressing the long-standing doctrine 
of the Rule of Law, one that has become ever more important in our 
information age. 

Nobody can deny you the right to read and know the law. Nobody can 
tell you that justice is for sale. Read the law and make it better. Make 
your society better and make it safer. 

You own your government. The Rule of Law is the rule of the people. 

The law is yours to read, yours to know, and yours to speak. This law is 
your law. 

Published by Public.Resource.Org 
Last Modified January 7, 2013