Complete revision notes on the constitution and judiciary

AQA GOVP2 Unit one

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Politics revision notes- the constitution
What is a constitution- A set of rules that defines the way a state is organised, sets out the ways
power is distributed and establishes the duties powers and functions of different parts of
government. It is basically the rules that govern government. They are a means to protect people as
they force governments to use their power correctly.
Three main types of constitution-
Codified/ uncodified- Whether a constitution is written and enshrined as higher law, uncodified is
usually customs and traditions while codified is the higher law.
Unitary/federal- This is how power is divided, federal has greater devolution of power to smaller
and other government bodies while unitary is one single government centre.
Rigid and flexible- This is the ease of which it can be changed, usually uncodified can be changed with
greater ease.
Codified constitutions
It is one single document where all the rules are set out
The document is authorities meaning it is higher law and cannot be overwritten
It is entrenched and therefore rigid as it cannot be easily changed or removed
It is judicable meaning that all political bodies are answerable to law if they do not obey the
rules set out in it
They often contain a bill of rights to protect the rights and freedoms of citizens
Uncodified constitution
They are usually made up from many different sources
It is not authorities as constitutional laws have the same status as over laws and this is called
a single tier system
Not entrenched reflecting parliamentary sovereignty meaning parliament is the only body
that can unmake and make laws.
It is also not judicable as no action can be deemed unconstitutional
The UK have a unitary, flexible uncodified constitution however it can in some aspects be rigid. The
US has the opposite and is a revolutionary constitution not an evolutionary one.

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Where is the UK constitution found?
Source Definition Examples Written/unwritte Legally binding
Statute law Laws passed through Parliament acts of Written Yes
parliament which overalls 1911 and 1949
that which has come 1998 Scotland act
before establishing the
Scottish parliament
Common law Precedents added to Royal prerogative and Written Yes
statute law by judges and many traditional rights.…read more

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Strength Details Affect on government power
Flexibility It is easy to change meaning it is It increases the power because
important when it comes to statute there are fewer checks and
laws as the constitution can be quickly balances that would make it
updated and therefore doesn't hard to make radical changes
become entrenched
It is also adaptable such as in the case
of devolution for Scotland and Wales
Democratic Means that someone has to be elected It limits the power of the
to…read more

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Comparing the US constitution with the UK constitution
The US constitution was the world's first written constitution in 1787, it sets out the powers of the 3
strands of government (congress, the presidency and the supreme court). It has a bill of rights
introduced in 1789 and forms the first 10 amendments. The constitution is entrenched and is
deliberately complex to amend.…read more

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A genuine wish to have a constitution that can be understood by all
The Changes made by Blair
spent from 79 to 97 in opposition and so wanted to make sure it wouldn't happen again by
limiting conservative power
Thought they may need to form a coalition with the liberal democrats at some point so
wanted to look interested in reform
Wanted to end conservative control of the house of lords
Wanted to strengthen labour support in Scotland and Wales through devolution
What changes…read more

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The JAC (Judicial appointment committee) ), security of tenure (they can't be
sacked meaning it can't effect decision making), their pay is separate from the review of parliament,
they are free from criticism, they are regulated by the law society and the lord chancellor's power
had been reduced.
Prior to the constitutional reform act 2005 they were appointed by the Lord chancellor and prime
minister and the lord chancellor has been separated a bit more from the judiciary because of it.…read more

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Speedy and cheap Does not stop detainment without trail
allows incompatibility makes it harder to fight claim…read more


Old Sir

This very detailed survey of constitutional issues will be useful to students revising the synoptic elements of A2. Particularly useful for comparing the British and US versions in the context of the nature of democracy in liberal western societies. Students should follow up by considering the nature of democracy within the framework of the EU.

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