The British Constitution Definitions

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Written Constitution
A formal document detailing the constitution (citizens rights, fundamental principles etc.) Can be rigid and unflexible
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Unwritten Constitution
A constitution which is not written in one document, but spread across several or even not written down at all. Can be hard to adhere to, but is more flexible than a written constitution.
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Codified/ Uncodified
More academic names for written and unwritten- Codified means that the constitution is written (eg. in America), and uncodified means that it is unwritten (eg. in Britain)
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Entrenched
A right that is guaranteed by legislation- for example the American right to bear arms is Entrenched in their constitution under the 2nd amendment
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Unitary
A state governed as a single unit with one government. For example Britain is a unitary state because it is one state that is governed by parliament.
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Federal
A collection of states that have separate levels of government but are still governed by a larger unit. For example in America there are 50 states which all have state governments however they are ulitmately governed by the Whitehouse
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Federal Crimes
related to federal states- federal laws are only applicable in one state, but not applicable to the whole of the country. They are a good example of multi-level governance in America
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Rigid
A constitution that is difficult to change because the amendment process is hard and lengthy. Written constitutions such as America's are a good example of this. However this can be good because it means that no hasty decisions are made.
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Flexible
A constitution which is relatively easy to amend because it is not written or entrenched within the country. Britain's uncodified constitution is one example. However this can be bad because it means that there are no fixed principles.
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Sources of British Constitution
Statute case laws (laws made by parliament), conventions (unwitten traditions such as ministerial responsibility), Treaties (laws put down by EU or NATO), Royal prerogative (the queen's constitutional rights), Old statutes such as the Magna Carta
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Judicial Independence
The separation of the judiciary (courts) from the government. Enhanced in Britain in 2005 by the removal of law lords and abolition of Lord Chancellor role
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Separation of Powers
The separation of legislative (parliament), executive (cabinet) and judiciary (courts) powers so that power is dispersed in many places, not just in one constitution
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Judicial Review
The ability of courts to reverse the decisions of ministers or local council if they are deemed to contavene Human rights (one example is the Tameside dispute where the courts backed up a Conservative council after a minister acted Ultra Vires)
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Parliamentary Sovereignty
Parliament as a decision-making body reserves absolute power over all laws. This limits judicial review because judges are unable to overturn laws they deem as immoral due to Parliaments sovereignty.
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Judicial Appointments
the 12 Judges for the supreme court are appointed by the Judicial appointments commission. They are most often quite old white men, so many see them as not representative of the country.
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Impact of Human Rights Act
The human rights act had significant impact- although Judges still can not overturn laws, they can state that they are incompatible with Human Rights so need revising. This has led to a more political role for judges.
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Card 2

Front

A constitution which is not written in one document, but spread across several or even not written down at all. Can be hard to adhere to, but is more flexible than a written constitution.

Back

Unwritten Constitution

Card 3

Front

More academic names for written and unwritten- Codified means that the constitution is written (eg. in America), and uncodified means that it is unwritten (eg. in Britain)

Back

Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4

Front

A right that is guaranteed by legislation- for example the American right to bear arms is Entrenched in their constitution under the 2nd amendment

Back

Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5

Front

A state governed as a single unit with one government. For example Britain is a unitary state because it is one state that is governed by parliament.

Back

Preview of the back of card 5
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