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What's a constitution?

  • Set of rules, written/unwritten.
  • Spreads power in Political system.
  • Shows Gov's limits and rights of citizens.
  • Can be Codified/uncodified, Unitary/Federal.

FUNCTIONS:

  • Decide how power is spread in state, e.g. roles of Queen, Parlia and Gov.
  • Makes a Political process.
  • States Governments limits, US makes it clear, UK is unclear.
  • Give rights to citizens against the state.
  • Can be ammended via Parliamentary statute or Evolution.
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Types of Constitutions

CODIFIED CONSTITUTION:

  • Single source, clearly written in one place.
  • Has 2 Tier-legal system, high laws for constitution and normal laws for day to day.
  • Can be entrenched.

UNCODIFIED CONSTITUTION:

  • No single source/ written document.
  • E.g. Isreal, Canada and New Zealand have basic laws.
  • But Britain has 1 Tier-legal system and 7 sources.
  • More flexibel

JUDICIAL REVIEW:

  • Law courts help clarify is constitution is codified/uncodified
  • Judicial review is when judges make a decision which hasn't changed the constitution but it's understanding.
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Basic principles of the Constitution:

PARLIAMENTARY SOVEREINGTY:

  • Sovereignty = Legal supremacy, ultimate power, every right to make laws and has no higher authority.
  • Most important feature of UK.
  • Westminister is supreme law making body, Parliament can make laws on anything, laws can't be changed by higher authority.

RULE OF LAW:

  • Rule of Law = A system of rule, citizens and state's relation is controlled via law.
  • Laws passed by Parliament are examined by Independent Judiciary.
  • Everyone must obey, even Gov-ministers, public officials etc.

UNITARY AND FEDERAL STATE:

  • Unitary is when power is held in one place, e.g. UK Westminister.
  • Federal is when power is shared between Government and regions, e.g. Germany and USA.
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Basic principles of the Constitution:

PARLIAMENTARY GOVERNMENT AND CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY:

  • 1689, Parliament now more supreme than crown.
  • Monarch power's restricted, can't dissolve Parliament.
  • 20th Century, HofC is now main legislator, not HofL.
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