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Constitutions And Constitutional Conventions Notes

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Revision Notes - Consttutons, Conventons and the Rule of Law What is a constitution?

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Set of rules that prescribe the structure and functions of a government in a specified territory. They are used to: o Lay down institutional forms through which power is exercise o Allocate power (horizontally across branches and vertical through local government through to EU) o Impose constraints on government and establish where power starts and ends o Give legitimacy to a government, particularly considering the power they exercise over us. o Anticipate events and make provisions for the protocol in those events. The British Constitution:

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It is written. But it is not codified in a single document.

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Theoretically there is no such thing as 'constitutional legislation' and nothing is on a higher footing than anything else (although this is questionable in light of decisions in cases like Thoburn).

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The constitution is given legitimacy by public consensus and acceptance. As far as procedural legitimacy is concerned, we rest on our laurels, especially when compared to countries like the US.

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Feldman sees the constitution as 'the machinery through which we give authority to, choose between, and accommodate conflicts between visions
[of the constitution], rather than a set of settled rules'. Advantages:

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Incredibly flexible. Parliament can alter the constitution with great ease (allegedly), whereas it is near impossible in countries like the US.

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Being placed throughout legislation means it cannot be 'suspended with the stroke of a pen', like a single document.

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Parliamentary sovereignty approach is more democratic than giving strike-down power to unelected judiciary. Keeps the judiciary non-partisan.

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Upholds the principle of parliamentary sovereignty.

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Promotes the concept of a constitution as a living document that can evolve over time. Disadvantages:

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