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Lecture 6

POL 100 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Constitution Act, 1982, Liberal Democracy, Organizational Chart


Department
Political Science
Course Code
POL 100
Professor
Loganathan Masilamani
Lecture
6

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THE CONSTITUTION AND THE COURTS
Constitution Dened
The body of fundamental laws, rules, and practices that denes the basic structure of
government, allocates power among governmental institutions, and regulates the
relationship between citizens and the state
Living Document”
Constitutional Government
Liberal democracy is based on the perspective that there should be limits on the power
and scope of government, that government should abide by the rule of law, and that the
rights of the people should be protected from arbitrary actions by government.
In other words, liberal democracy is characterized not only by government elected by the
people, but also by constitutional government
A constitutional government is one wherein the constitution e*ectively limits the power of
the political elite
-Thus in a constitutional polity [政政政政政政政] the \constitution organizes, but also restraints
Functions of Constitutions
To dene the structure of major institutions of government
To divide powers and duties among the various institutions of government
To regulate relations between the citizen and the state
To serve as a political symbol
To specify a procedure for amending the constitution
Origins of Constitutions
Revolution
Decolonization
Aftermath of war
Secession
Rule of Law
The laws governing a society must emanate from a known body according to set
procedures.
The law applies to everyone, including government o2cials.
It must be possible for an individual to discover what the law is.
The law will be enforced by proper courts
Constitutions
Written Constitutions: - specic set of documents. (US, Germany, Canada)
Unwritten Constitution: - rules based on tradition and conventions. (Great Britain)
-Cannot be found in the same document as the written constitution
Constitutional Elements
Preamble – Is a political manifesto, setting out the goals and priorities of the government.
An organizational chart – Delineates whether the political institutions are to be federal or
unitary, presidential or parliamentary in nature.
An amending clause – For future revision of the constitution. It species who is involved,
the nature and kinds of amendments allowed, and the procedures to be utilized
A bill of rights – Based on the assumption that individuals need extra protection from their
own government, as well as actions of their fellow citizens.
Mechanisms of Constitutional Change
Usages and conventions
Judicial review
Secession
Constitutional Conventions
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