Constitutional law is the law that relates to interpreting, implementing and amending the United States constitution and the constitutions of the 50 states.
It is an area of law that focuses on what the constitution says, what it means and what its limitations are. As social and political issues change and develop in the United States, attorneys who practice constitutional law bring these issues to the courts to ask for clarification about the meaning, interpretation and enforcement of the constitution.
The founders ratified the United States Constitution in The constitution was the result of a debate about the appropriate role of government in a free society. The U. Despite many amendments throughout the years, the constitution remains the primary document that governs the government of the United States. The constitution gives power to the federal government in three branches: the legislative branch that makes the law, the executive branch that carries out the law and makes treaties and the judicial branch that interprets the law.
The constitution also defines the relationship between the states and the federal government. A person accused of a crime has the right to have reasonable notice of the charges against them and an opportunity to be heard in the matter.
They have the right to a fair judge or jury in their case. They have the right to cross examine witnesses and the opportunity to have an attorney. Courts must keep records of proceedings and publicly state the reasons for their decisions.
You also have the right to a fair process in civil matters. The government can make only limited time and place restrictions on speech. If they make restrictions, they must apply the restrictions uniformly to everyone. Constitutional lawyers continue to challenge limitations on free speech, and the courts continue to struggle with the balancing act of serving both legitimate public interests and the private right to speech and expression.
The federal government can only regulate an industry if the industry impacts or has the potential to impact interstate commerce. The authors of the constitution wanted the federal government to regulate the relationship between states while leaving it to the states to draft the laws that they see fit.
The commerce clause is one of the most litigated parts of the constitution. Generally, the Supreme Court interprets the commerce clause in a broad, expansive way. In the Swift v.Constitutional law is a body of law based on a ratified constitution or similar formative charter dealing with the fundamental principles by which a government exercises its authority.
These principles typically define the roles and powers of the various branches of the government and the basic rights of the people. By establishing the authority of the government, as well as the rights of the people, constitutional law is the foundation of all other procedural and substantive laws applied within the country.
In most countries, constitutional law is derived from a written document, like the U. In most federal governmentslike the United States and Canada, constitutional law defines the relationship and division of powers between the central government and the state, provincial, or territorial governments.
Common elements of constitutional law include the provision and assurance of human rights and civil liberties, legislative powers, the division of governmental powers, and assurance of protection under the rule of law.
As essential elements of constitutional law, human rights and civil liberties protect the rights and freedoms of individuals against the actions of the government. Human rights refer to the natural rights and freedoms of all people no matter where they live, such as freedom from religious persecution or slavery. Civil liberties are the rights and freedoms specifically granted to individuals by a constitution, such as the right to trial by jury or protection from unreasonable search and seizure by the police.
Constitutional law establishes rules and procedures by which governments legislateor make laws. For example, the process for enacting new laws or amending existing laws, the method of amending the constitutionand the number of terms or years a member of the legislative body may serve.
In most modern nations, constitutional law divides the power of the central government among three functional branches. These branches are typically an executive branch, a legislative branch, and a judicial branch. Most constitutions divide the governmental powers in a way to ensure that no one branch can dominate the other two. Constitutional law strives to ensure that these laws are:. The amendments to the Constitution, including those of the Bill of Rightslist the rights possessed specifically by the people.
Rights not specifically listed in the Constitution are protected by the Tenth Amendmentwhich grants all rights not reserved to the federal government to the states or to the people. The Constitution also outlines and divides the powers of the three branches of government and creates a protective system of checks and balances of powers between the three branches. The first article of the Constitution creates a framework of rules by which the legislative branch creates laws, which must be approved by the President of the United States as head of the executive branch before taking effect.
The U. Supreme Court resolves disputes involving constitutional issues. Since its landmark ruling in the case of Marbury v. Madisonthe Supreme Court has, through the process of judicial reviewacted as the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution. Decisions of the Supreme Court become a permanent part of constitutional law and are thus binding on the parties involved, as well as the federal and state governments and the people.
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Do you have a case? Click to contact our attorneys. Help us fight for Liberty! Follow us on social media. Columbus, OH We do not respond to inquiries made by phone.Generally, constitutional law is the foundation of all law in a specific jurisdiction. It establishes governmental authority and power, as well as limitations and grants of rights.
The Constitution of the United States established a system of government and serves as the primary source of law.
While each individual state has its own constitution, "Constitutional law" generally refers to such law of the federal government. Drafted in and adopted the following year, the United States Constitution establishes three branches of federal government, its relationship to and between states, and sets forth the rights possessed by the people.
The Bill of Rights, along with the other Amendments, enumerates rights possessed by the people. For example, the First Amendment protects the right to free speech, press, association and religion. Rights not enumerated are also safeguarded, as the Tenth Amendment provides that all rights not given to the federal government are reserved to the individual states and people. Articles I, II, and III outline the powers of the federal legislative, executive, and judicial branches, respectively.
Along with other portions of the document, these articles create a system of checks and balances among the various branches of government. Article IV governs the relationship of states to one another, addresses the creation of new states, and establishes a republican form of government. Article V contains the procedure for amending the Constitution.
Article VI addresses debts, establishes the Constitution as the highest law known as the Supremacy Clause and mandates that officers of all branches of government, federal and state, take an oath to uphold the Constitution. Article VII sets forth the requirements for ratification of the Constitution. The Supreme Court is the self-proclaimed final arbiter on disputes involving a Constitutional issue.
In Marbury v. Madison5 U. Supreme Court decisions are binding on the parties. Moreover, Supreme Court decisions are part of the body of Constitutional law, and are, therefore, also binding on all other branches—federal and state—of government, and the people Art.
The Constitution is relatively short and its vague and sometimes antiquated language invites varying interpretations. Competing theories have evolved on the appropriate method to use to interpret the meaning of the Constitution. Examples of these diverse methods include "originalists" who maintain the text must be read literally, while "purposivists" seek to discern and achieve the intent of the law on grounds that the Constitution was intended to be a "living document," adaptable to changing society.
In vague areas, courts have referred to principles of English common law, on grounds its application was, in some circumstances, intended by the Framers. Last updated April Justia Constitutional Law Constitutional Law.
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