Constitutions control and distribute state power, setting out principles in order to maintain a stable relationship between the state and the state’s citizens. It is clear that the UK constitution is un-codified as well as unwritten to a high extent, and is constructed from several sources. Common laws are preceded by judges in relation to previous cases. European law also affects all members of the European Union state due to the European Act 1972. Statutes are approved by the parliament being the most important form of laws.
These intentions disclose the structure of government it aims to articulate and subsequently protect over time. In doing so, it lists only governmental powers that are necessary to maintain its enduring political system, which reflects the state’s identity and indirectly promotes civic virtue. Powers regarding various policy areas are not included as they are instead determined by the people via the legislature. As an extension to this, in order to preserve its fundamental ramifications, the constitution must be drafted in a manner that makes it difficult to amend. By retaining a rigid amendment process, it protects the people from the passions of small factions that threaten to sabotage its original meaning.
There are many arguments for having a codified constitution, or keeping our unwritten one. Since 1997, many constitutional reforms have been made. The difference between an uncodified and codified is that in an uncodified constitution, it is not confined to one document, but in a variety. In Britain, our constitution comes from a range of sources including common and statute law, treaties, conventions and historical documents such as the Magna Carta. However, a codified, or written, constitution is found in one document.
If a codified constitution requires 2/3 majority in both houses for an amendment, devolution would never have been passed by the Parliament, but we can see its benefits. How can we possibly know that what may be best for our current aims will still be best for us after a hundred years? Although people argue that adopting a codified constitution would prevent corruption in the Parliament, the people should be happy to leave policy decisions to their elected representatives and their judgement as they are more informed and educated about politics. They should trust them to govern the country as they wish because it was the people’s decision to elect them in order to do so. Democracy is regarded as the rule of the people, and therefore the executive branch should be able to create the laws and policies that the public have elected them to make in order to satisfy their wishes.
F. F. Ridley argues that Britain does not have a true constitution as it does not meet the four essential characteristics of (i) ‘it establishes, or constitutes, the system of government and thus it is not part of it’; (ii) ‘it involves an authority outside and above the order it establishes’; (iii) ‘it is a form of law superior to other laws’ and (iv) ‘it is entrenched’. In contrast, the Select Committee on the Constitution argue that ‘the British Constitution, contrary to popular description, is not ‘unwritten’ – a good part of it is written – but it is uncodified’. The conflicting arguments of constitutional writers about whether the British constitution can even be labelled a constitution is reflective of how laypeople regard it. The common man is unlikely to know or understand the elements of the British constitution due to its uncodified nature, whereas in the United States of America the constitutional rights are a commonly known fact and people often refer to their amendment rights, largely due to the clear format demonstrating the fundamental laws and rights. As we withdraw from the European Union and large amounts of legislation is being repealed, replaced or introduced, knowing and understanding the key fundamental rules of Britain is crucial for its citizens and codification would solve
Compare the history of how we got to our current constitution to something else and why that is so? A constitution is literally a rule book. It states many different things in it. It sets up major governing institutions, assigns institutions their given power, and places explicit and implicit control on power that given to them. A constitution establishes literal legitimacy, it’s the real deal.
The proper and necessary clause in the Constitution is too general, and is dangerous due to the fact that it doesn't list all the powers of government in order to put clear limits on them. The executive branch is given too much power from the Constitution, and there is a probability of it becoming a monarchy soon. The Federalists could argue that a strong national government is needed to deal with problems, like trade and defense, but that does not counter the fact that they carry an army during peacetime, and it could be used to suppress the people. They might also say that a strong executive branch is necessary to to fulfill its responsibilities, this can be countered by the fact that one branch should not be stronger than the others, that was the whole point of the three branches. In conclusion, the Constitution has many errors that need mending.
The meaning of the Constitution may be puzzling and unclear but I find that the Living Constitution approach is the most practical for making judgements about particular cases. If I were a justice in the Supreme Court, I would use this approach because it’s based on a system that the document of the Constitution sets up a set of timeless principles that are applied in today’s world and not simply based on the time when it was written. The Constitution should be used to help solve problems by coming up with what these principles mean when applied in today’s world. An example of this is the controversy of whether marriage can or cannot be denied to gay people because of equality. Those who go by the living constitution approach agree that marriage cannot be denied to gay people because the
The Constitution was designed to be a “living” document. In other words, this was intentional so that amendments could be made to it as time passed. The framers of the Constitution left it is indistinct in order to benefit the people—it is to be interpreted. With this, although there are some positives, (i.e. putting some control back into the hands of the people) it also blurs the lines as to what violates the Constitution and what does not.