What Is A Constitution? Definition of Constitution
Definition and Meaning of Constitution – Considered as the most supreme and the basic framework for all other laws to be enacted, a constitution establishes the general principles that will govern a state. It lays down the fundamental rights and obligations of every citizen, describes the scope and limitations of the government’s structure and powers, and defines provisions that will safeguard sovereignty. A constitution may also include the processes as to how political, social, cultural, and economic processes must be designed in order to secure law and order.
Characteristics of a Good Constitution
Complete provisions that clearly define the following:
- Rights of the citizens
- The structure and powers of the government
- Separation of powers
- Electoral processes
- Framework for statutory laws
- Adapted form of government
- Hierarchy of national and local leaders
- Just manner as to how it can be amended
- Systematic and organized
- Strikes a balance and fairness between rigidness and flexibility
- Must be capable of coping with the changing needs and conditions within the state
- Must emanate from the sovereign will of the people and prioritize their general welfare
- How it is worded must be clear and concise to avoid misinterpretations and conflicts upon its enforcement
Kinds of Constitution
According to Form
Written Constitution – Drafted by a conglomeration of knowledgeable and competent legislators, this kind of constitution encloses all essential principles in a written and codified form. Often divided orderly into sections and articles, it functions as a collection of definite rulings that will govern all branches of the government, all types of rights bestowed upon the citizens, and all measures needed to secure the sovereignty of a state. A written constitution often reflects the sovereign will if its people and is a product of careful deliberation and consultation with all relevant sectors of society.
Unwritten Constitution – In contrast, this kind of constitution is not codified into one systematic book of the state’s guiding principles. Some portions of it are scattered into multiple records of laws or historical charters, while some can also be dependent upon the intangible customs, traditions, or even kingly provisions. Despite such fact, the citizens governed by an unwritten constitution loyally recognize and obeys its supremacy. An example of this kind is the constitution of United Kingdom.
According to Flexibility
Flexible Constitution – This kind presents easier means of amendment, similar to how a legislative body would amend an ordinary law. The intricate ratification of the amendment by a majority of the citizens is no longer needed. The British Constitution, for instance, can easily be amended by the sovereign British Parliament with the mere majority vote of such legislative body.
Rigid Constitution – With the constitution of the United States as an example, a rigid constitution requires a more difficult and step by step process for it to be amended. There must be a pressing and urgent concern to be proven by the legislature, the formation of a competent body that will draft such amendments, and the ratification of a majority of the state’s citizens.