CONSTITUTIONAL LAW IN THE UK AND THE USA



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CONSTITUTIONAL LAW IN THE UK AND THE USA



Being the supreme law, the constitution helps the state function on the basis of outlined rules and generally accepted principles. If we try to compare the main characteristics of the constitutions of the United States and Great Britain, we will see that the first one is presented in the written form while the second one is considered to be unwritten. However, we should keep in mind that many parts of the British constitution exist in written form too. One of the most important enactments of the British constitution was the Great Charter (1215) when king John had to sign the document where the rights of the Englishmen were written down. Among other leading enactments, we should mention the Bill of Rights (1689), the Act of Settlement (1700-1701) and the Parliament Act of 1911.

The sources of English constitutional law are statutes, precedents, textbooks, the writings of historians and political theorists and other documents of importance. As there is no codified document then there is no special safeguard for constitutional rules. Constitutional law can be changed or amended. The Parliament is authorized to legislate in any field. There are no fundamental ideologies and no procedures to interfere with constitutional change.

In the USA there exists a written constitution adopted in 1788. It starts with the words: “We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America”.

While American constitutional law derives many of its forms from the common law, it is important to note that the constitutional order of the United States was very different from that of the United Kingdom. The Constitution’s written nature and formal enumeration of the power of government are the main factors determining this difference. Constitutional law of the USA deals with interpretation and implementation of the United States Constitution, the fundamental law of the country. Constitutional law also deals with relationships within society, including the relations among the states, the states and the federal government, the three branches (the executive, legislature and judiciary) of the federal government, and the rights of the individuals on the federal and state level. The logic of separation of powers is as follows: the principle of separation of powers requires that the legislature not act beyond its constitutional authority; it establishes the courts as the final legal arbiter of that principle; an official who acts beyond one’s legal authority acts unlawfully and is subject to legal liability accordingly. The Supreme Court has played the crucial role in interpreting the main constitutional provisions. Consequently, study of constitutional law focuses mainly on Supreme Court rulings.

The Supreme Court’s interpretations of the Constitution are binding on the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, on the lower courts in the federal system and on all state courts. That is why they say that the US has a rigid constitution because proposals to amend the main constitutional document can only be added through a complex procedure of majority vote in each house of Congress.

 

II. COMPREHENSION

1. Answer the following questions:

1. Does the British constitution have systematic statement of law?

2. What are the main sources of constitutional law in the UK and the US?

3. What notions are stressed in the Preamble (передмові) to the Constitution of the US?

4. What judicial body in the US is given power to interpret the Constitution?

5. Can you name the leading enactments of the British constitution?

 

2.Why is the division of power important? What are drawbacks (недоліки) and advantages of one-house legislature?

Compare the system of government of the United States, the United Kingdom and of Ukraine? How is power separated among different branches?

4. Explain the meaning of the following words in English:

Executive, judicial, legislature, interpreting the Constitution.

 

Referring to the text make up a dialogue on the topic “Separation of powers”.

III. VOCABULARY STUDY

1. Restore the word order:

a. A/ of government/ the United States/ structure/ has/ federal.

b. On/ the Constitution/ state/ autonomy/ imposes/ limitations.

c. Are/ by/ constituted/ rules/ legal/ the/ and/ the/ courts/ legislature.

d. Called/ the/ rules/ are/ creating/ of government/ agencies/ rules/ constitutive.

e. by/ Congress/ legislative/ the/ power/ exercised/ is.

f. Have/ the/ law/ the/ courts/ authority/ has/ to determine/ conferred.

g. Imposes/ the U.S. Constitution/ obligations/ on/ the/ legal/ states/ with/ each/ in/ their/ other/ relationships.

h. Defined/ the/ the U.S. Constitution/ of/ the/ powers/ government/ federal.

2. Match the suitable translation to the following combinations with the word “power”

Powers expressly assigned

Separation of powers

The Great Powers

The power of attorney

Power to contract

Power structure

The power of attorney and substitution

Power politics

 

Великі держави

Політика с позиції сили

Право на укладання договорів

Розподіл владних повноважень

Безпосередньо надані повноваження

Доручення

Доручення з правом передоручення

Структура розподілу влади

The Great Charter (Magna Carta)

3.Read the text and fill in the blanks with verbs in necessary forms:

The idea that government (to be, not) powerful (to appear) with King John’s signing the Magna Carta in 1215 under the threat of civil war. The document (to establish) the principle of limited government refusing the absolute role of the monarch. The Great Charter (to provide) for protection against unjust punishment and the loss of life, liberty and property except according to law. It (to stipulate) that no citizen (can, to punish) without a fair trial. Under this prominent document the king (can, not, to collect) taxes without consulting his advisors.

Though the Magna Carta (to intend) as the document protecting the aristocracy in time it (to come) one of the cornerstones of British liberties. It (to be) still (to regard) one of the oldest written constitutional papers.

4.Read and comment upon the definition of the constitutional rights given below:

Constitutional rights are given or reserved to the people by the U.S. Constitution, and in particular, the Bill of Rights (first ten amendments). These

rights include: writ of habeas corpus, no bill of attainder, no

duties or taxes on transporting goods from one state to another (Article I, Section 9); jury trials (Article III, Section 1); freedom of religion, speech, press (which includes all media),assembly and petition (First Amendment); state militia to bear arms (Second Amendment); no quartering of troops in homes (Third Amendment); no unreasonable search and seizure (Fourth Amendment);major ("capital and infamous") crimes require indictment, no double jeopardy (more than one prosecution) for the same crime, no self-incrimination, right to due process, right to just compensation for property taken by eminent domain (Fifth Amendment); in criminal law, right to a speedy trial, to confront witnesses against one, and to counsel (Sixth Amendment); trial by jury (Seventh Amendment); right to bail, no excessive fines, and no cruel and unusual punishments (Eighth Amendment); unenumerated rights are reserved to the people (Ninth Amendment); equal protection of the laws (14th Amendment); no racial bars to voting (15th Amendment); no sex bar to voting (19th Amendment); and no poll tax (24th Amendment). Constitutional interpretation has expanded and added nuances to these rights.

5. Join the word pieces:

DISTRI TUTION

DRAW BUTION

CONSTI BACK

LEGIS MENTATION

IMPLE LATURE

PRESI ING

BIND DENT



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