a constitution is a set of rules that:
- seek to establish the duties, powers and functions of the various institutuions of government
- regulate the relationships between and among the institutions
- define the relationship between the state and the individual; define the extent of civil liberty
the balance between written (eg laws) and unwritten (eg customs and conventions) rules varies from system to system, but no constitution is entirely written and none is entirely unwritten. the main types of constituion are codified and uncodified constitutions, unitary and federal constitutions, and rigid and flexible constitutions.
a constitution is basically rules that govern the government. just as government lays down rules for society at large through the laws it makes, so a constitution establishes a framework of rules which are meant to check or constrain government. a constitution therefore gives practicle expression to the principle of limited government.
- the first was the US constitution in 1787
- the french declaration of the rights of man and the citizen in 1789.
- britain where the oriins of its unwritten constitution can be traced back to the bill of rights of 1689 and the act of settlement of 1701, both of which transfer power from the king to parliament in the aftermath of the glorious revolution.
types of constitution- constitutions can be classified in three main ways:
- as codified and uncodified constitutions
- as unitary and federal constitutions
- as rigid and flexible constitutions
codified and uncodified constitutions-
a codified constitution is a constitution in which key constitutional provisions are collected together within a single legal document, popularly known as a written constitution or the constitution.
a uncodified constitution is a constitution that is made up of rules that are found in a variety of sources, in the absence of a single legal document or written constitution.
written constitutions are, in theory, constitutions that are enshrined in law, while unwritten constitutions are supposedly made up of customs and traditions. the former have been created, while the latter have been orgainc entities that have evolved through history.
however, the written/unwritten distinction has always been misleading...
- no constitution is entirely written.no constitution is entirely composed of formal rules that are legally enforceable.even where written documents exist, these do not, and cannot, define all aspects of constitutional practices.
- no constitution is entirely unwritten. no constitution consists only of rules of conduct and behaviour.it is a mistake to classify the UK constitution as unwritten, as most of its provisions are, in fact, written.
a codified constitution is one that is based on the existance of a single authoritarian document.this document the written constitution, lays down (usually in its preamable) the core prinicpals of the system of government.
in its main body, it usually outlines the duties, powers and functions of the major institutions of government. it may also include a statement of citizens rights and freedoms, possibly in the form of a bill of rights. a large proportion of countries, and certainly virtually all liberal democratic states, now posess codified constitutions.