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Lecture 9

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Department
Political Science
Course
Political Science 1020E
Professor
Nigmendra Narain
Semester
Summer

Description
Constitutions, Law and The Judiciary  A Law­Governed State • The rule of law: Substitutes a ‘government of laws’ for a ‘government of men’ • Types of Law: ­ a) Common Law­ Customs, tradition, precedents (judge­made law) ­ b) Civil Law­ Written legal codes (Judge­administered law) ­ c) Statute Law­ legislatively enacted law • Relationship of Statute to Constitution:        1) Common Law ­ a) Statutes can operate within common law context ­ b) Can lead to parliamentary sovereignty          2) Civil Law­ Statutes are subordinate to codified constitutional law What is a Constitution? • A body of meta­norms, higher­order legal rules, and principles that specify how  all other legal norms are to be produced, applied, enforced, and interpreted  Purposes of a Constitution  • Empowering States: Creating and enabling states  • Establishing values and goals: fundamental, unifying – may derive from custom,  ‘higher law,’ constitutional convention, referendum  • Providing government stability: Mapping power within the state­institutions,  processes  • Protecting Freedom: Transferring power from a governing individual or group to  a set of rules – impersonal, equal  ­ a) Constraining power holders  ­ b) Confining the privileged  ­ c) Clarifying rights (negative? Also positive?) • Legitimizing regimes: Commitment to values and legal­rationality Do Constitutions Matter? • Constitutionalism: A political community’s commitment to respect  constitutional principles, limiting and fragmenting power  • Constitutional Effectiveness: ­ a) Bounded by culture and values of society ­ b) No defense against tyranny ­ c) Can be self­sustaining­ checks and balances  The Constitutional Experience  • Constitutions emerge after rupture: War, independence, regime change • Enormous growth of especially written, codified constitutions with  decolonization, third wave democratization, USSR collapse  • Constitutions last on average 52 years: ­ a) American success: General, flexible ­ b) British success: Open­ended, Ad
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