Chapter 3 The Constitution

  • Created by: loupardoe
  • Created on: 11-01-18 09:50

what is a constitution?

bill of rights- an authoritative statement of the rights of citizens, often entrenched as part of a codified constitution

constitution- the set of laws, rules and practices that create the basic institutions of the state and its component and related parts, and stipulate the powers of those institutions and the relationship between the different institutions and between those institutions and the individual

limited government- system in which the powers of government are subject to legal constraints as well as checks and balances within the political system

  • the constitution provides a framework for the poltical system
  • establish the main institutions of government
  • determines where decision making authority resides
  • protects the basic rights of citizens
  • in liberal democracies the constitution provides an important defence against any abuse of power by the state, its institutions and its officials
  • provides for a system of limited government
  • limits any danger of overmighty government
  • the rights of the citizen are protected from arbitrary state power
  • should not be considered separate from normal political activity
  • not necessarily neutral- the framework they provide may favour some actors at the expense of others

codified and uncodified constitutions

codified constitution- a single, authoritative document that sets out the laws, rules and principles by which a state is governed, and which protects the rights of citizens

uncodified constitution- the laws, rules and principles specifiying how a state is to be governed are not gathered in a single document. they are found in a variety of sources, some unwritten and some written

entrenched- difficult to change; often requiring supermajorities or approval by popular referendum

fundamental law- constitutional law that is deliberately set above regular statute in terms of status and given a degree of protection against regular laws passed by the legislature

features of codified constitutions

  • generally produced at a critical juncture in a nation's history
  • newly found independence- the US constitution 1789
  • a period of authoritarian rule- the spanish constitution 1978
  • war and/or occupation- West Germany's basic law 1949
  • the political institutions established are explicity granted their authority by the new consititution
  • a codified constitution is afforded the status of fundamental law
  • a constitutional court is given the job of holding other key players accountable to this supreme law

entrenchment and amendment

  • special procedures are needed for amendment
  • will generally require a supermajority and/or approval by national referendum
  • codified constitutions are often characterised as rigid

the UK's uncodified constitution

  • our constitution can be amended by a simple act of parliament
  • the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty holds that parliament has legislative supremacy
  • enables it to pass laws on any matter of its choosing and to overturn any existing law

the sources of the UK constitution

statute law- law derived from acts of parliament and subordinate legislation

common law- law derived from general customs or traditions and the decision of judges

judicial review- the power of senior judges to review the actions of government and public authorities and to declare them unlawful if they have exceeded their authority





Who is not in politics is hard for him



Not for everyone, I would say.