Unit 1: Government and Politics: The Constitution

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Created by LittleLauren:) about 6 years ago
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Unit 1: Government and Politics: The Constitution
1 Definition
1.1 A constitution is a set of rules which may be written eg USA or unwritten eg UK
1.2 It sets out the distribution of power within the political system
1.3 It regulates the relationship between political institutions
1.4 It also defines the relationship between the state and the individual
2 Sources
2.1 Statute Law

Annotations:

  • Act of Parliament Enforceable in courts Example: - Parliament Act 1911 and 1949 Takes precedence over all other sources BUT there are consequences of signing EC Act 1972
2.2 Common Law

Annotations:

  • Devlopment of laws through historical tradition and usage enforced by judges (case law) Precedent examples - original law on civil liberties. Most principles replaced by statutes.
2.3 Conventions

Annotations:

  • Unwritten rules considered binding on all members of the political communityHowever not legally enforced, operate according to tradition and customRelate to exercise of powers by governmentExample: Fixed term Parliament
2.4 Royal Prerogative

Annotations:

  • Prerogative powers of the monarch = set of rules & privilages that in the past were performed by the monarch By convention: - now performed by ministers, especially PM, in his or her name.
2.5 Works of Authority

Annotations:

  • Books by constitutional theorists - cited to establish appropriate procedures e.g Erskine May - Parliamentary practice Constitutional theorists - have also established historical principles e.g. Blackstone - parliamentary sovereignty
2.6 Treaties and EU Law

Annotations:

  • EU law is binding on all members and takes precedent over domestic law Britian also bound by EU treaties e.g. Amsterdam Treaty 1997 Judgements made in the European Court of Justice
3 Types of constitution
3.1 Codified

Annotations:

  • For example the USA – single authoritive  document Entrenched – difficult to change Clearly outlined rules of Branches of Government Judiciable – the judiciary may be needed to interpret the meaning of the constitution
3.2 Uncodified

Annotations:

  • For example the UK – not authoritive – single tier legal system. Not entrenched – easy to change – just needs to pass through legislature (Parliament) Not judiciable – Supreme Court cannot change laws ratified by the legislature
3.3 Rigid

Annotations:

  • In USA, constitutional amendments need: 2/3 majority – congress Ratified by ¾ states Supreme Court can affect the meaning of the constitution through the law
3.4 Flexible

Annotations:

  • The UK – it is easier to pass/ change laws through the legislature. Example: the Human Rights Act 1998 – means UK constitution stays up to date. However some aspect of the constitution resistant to change – such as centralisation or government
3.5 Unitary

Annotations:

  • Power/ sovereignty rests with UK parliament at Westminster. Power may be handed down to devolved bodies but in theory it can be taken back by Westminster.
3.6 Federal

Annotations:

  • Power/ sovereignty is spread out – the USA States have their own constitution and laws. The relationship between the federal government & state is defined by the constitution  It can be a major issue because each state can differ on laws on how peoples rights are protected.
3.7 Human Rights

Annotations:

  • Protects us from all authorities becoming over mighty On 2 October 2000, the HRA has made rights from the ECHR came enforceable in our own courts.

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