First, there is the idea of limits on the power of rulers and magistrates. This becomes especially necessary with the rise of absolutism and, later, totalitarian regimes.
The second important tradition is the rule of law. This is the means by which members of a society regulate their conduct in accordance with an established set of laws.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is “the consensual development of such law, as opposed to top-down decree by the supreme authority of the state.” (M. Stanton Evans, The Theme Is Freedom: Religion, Politics, and the American Tradition, Regnery Publishing, Washington, D.C., 1994, p. 78)