Flashcards in (1) Nature and Purpose of Constitutions Deck (7)
What are constitutions?
While there is disagreement over the precise definition, broadly;
Constitutions are a distinctive species of legal norms or rules which are concerned with the government and governance of the state within which they apply.
What is the key purpose of a constitution?
To regulate and allocate governmental power within a state.
What functions does a constitution perform?
- Establishes the key institutions of government
- Distributes power between them
- Governs the ways in which institutions may interact
- Controls the ways the institutions exercise their powers
- Determine how powers may be exercised in relation to the individual
How do constitutions operate in liberal democracies?
Typically, in liberal democracies constitutions divide governmental powers between three core branches of the state – executive, legislature and judiciary.
What legislative implications may a constitution have?
The Constitution may empower Parliament (the legislature) to make laws – this power is hugely significant both in terms of the laws regulating the governing of the country (e.g. who can stand for election) but also on a day-day level (e.g. who we can marry).
What governmental/executive implications may a constitution have?
The Constitution may determine which individuals should comprise the government (the executive) and how the various executive functions should be exercised. Constitutional norms dictate, for instance, that the leader of the largest political party in the House of Commons will hold the office of PM and that Ministers must present themselves for questioning by Parliament.