To what extent do the constitutions of the USA

To what extent do the fundamental laws of the USA and UK differ?

This essay examines the similarities and differences between the fundamental laws of the United States of America and the United Kingdom. It foremost defines what a fundamental law is and so returns to placing cardinal characteristics of a fundamental law with mention to the USA and the UK. Specifically it looks at codification, intrenchment and sovereignty. The decision suggests that there are many differences between the fundamental laws of the Unites States of America and the United Kingdom but they both uphold the same democratic rules.

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A fundamental law provides a design by which a state is run, they detail the set of rules and regulations that define what the Government is, the nature of the Government and the extent of the powers of Government. The fundamental law besides sets out the regulative model between the establishments within a state. It will detail the relationship between the different maps of Government ; the bench, the executive and legislative. It besides defines the relationships within those countries, for illustration in the executive sphere it sets out the relationship between Government sections and the civil service. In this regard the fundamental laws of the USA and the UK are the same. The similarity nevertheless stops at that place as this essay returns to sketch.

A cardinal differentiation between the fundamental law of the United States of America and the United Kingdom is that the US has a codified fundamental law and the United Kingdom has an un-codified fundamental law. By statute fundamental law it is meant that the fundamental law is contained in one individual written papers. This papers is the merely, individual beginning of jurisprudence in the state. To the contrary an un-codified fundamental law is one that consists of legion different beginnings, these beginnings can be either written or unwritten. An un-codified fundamental law is non contained within a individual papers like a statute fundamental law. [ 1 ] The bulk of democratic states in the universe have a statute fundamental law. What the two types of fundamental law do hold in common is that they are a merchandise of development, they have merely happened this manner through history. The British Constitution has come into being from a assortment of beginnings written and unwritten beginnings such as legislative acts like the Magna Carta, political conventions, Acts of Parliament ( for illustration the Human Rights Act 1998 ) , instance jurisprudence and from the Hagiographas of constitutional experts, such as Walter Bagehot [ 2 ] and from royal privileges, usage, tradition and case in points. In this sense the development of the US fundamental law is a batch simpler and newer, it besides drew on rules of the Magna Carta.

One advantage of a statute fundamental law is because it is a individual written papers it is more easy accessible. In states, such as America, where there is a statute fundamental laws in the legal system there is a differentiation made between constitutional jurisprudence and statue jurisprudence, where the former is usually dominant. So, for illustration if there is a difference between a legal legislative act and a statute fundamental law the legal statue is deemed unconstitutional and over-ruled. In the British fundamental law there is no differentiation made in the legal footings between constitutional and statutory jurisprudence, both are equal and both can be amended or changed in Parliament through a bulk ballot. In America there is a much more complex path to any amendment of the fundamental law or constitutional jurisprudence.

The difference in easiness at which the fundamental law can be changed in the US and the UK shows a farther difference in the two fundamental laws. If a fundamental law is lawfully protected from amendments unless it goes through a process known as a constitutional amendment so the fundamental law is entrenched. This is the instance in the US but non in the UK. In simple footings this means that any amendment can non merely be done by the Government it needs wider audience and credence. In the UK the fundamental law is changed through the passing of Torahs in parliament, which requires a bulk ballot. Most written fundamental laws are besides entrenched, this makes it more hard to alter the fundamental law where it is entrenched. Constitutions besides set up the function of the monarchy in the province. In the USA there is no monarchy hence this does non use. In the UK there is a Royal Family and the British Constitution has parliamentary Sovereignty in that the Queen ( or King ) is the caput of State.

In drumhead the fundamental law of the US is codified and entrenched, the constitutional jurisprudence takes precedency over codified jurisprudence. In the US amendments to the fundamental law are much more hard to do than they are in the UK. The fundamental law of the UK is un-codified and it is non entrenched, Parliament has the power to alter any portion of the fundamental law through a bulk ballot. In the UK there is Parliamentary sovereignty, in that the Monarch is the Head of State whereas in the USA there is no monarchy and hence no construct of sovereignty. This essay has shown that there are cardinal differences in the fundamental laws of the USA and the UK both states are nevertheless committed to the rules of broad democracy.


Bagehot, WThe English ConstitutionLondon, 1867 reprinted and edited by G.Phillipson Sussex Academic Press, Sussex: 1997

Barnett, H. A. ,Britain Unwrapped: Government and Constitution Explained,Penguin Books, London 2002.

Maier, P. ,The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States,Bantam USA, 1998.

McClellan, J. ,Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government, Liberty Fund 3rd Edition, 2000.

Turpin, C. ,British Government and the Fundamental law: Text, Cases and Materials ( Law in Context )Cambridge University Press ; Fifth Revised Edition, 2002.


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