POLS 102 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Constitution, Negative And Positive Rights, Good Governance

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CH 8 Law, constitutions, and federalism
A key innovation of the Western state is the idea that the power of rulers should be limited
by the rule of law.
Laws determine what is criminal behavior, prescribe punishments for criminals, and provide
impartial rules for the adjudication of disputes.
For laws to be accepted as legitimate accepted rules of procedure must be followed.
Requirements for the rule of law:
The law must be accessible, intelligible, clear, and predictable
The laws should apply equally to all
Public officials should exercise their functions fairly, not unreasonably, and for the
purpose originally intended
The law must adequately protect fundamental human rights
Means much be provided to settle civil disputes without prohibitive cost or inordinate
delay
Trial procedures should be fair
States must comply with international legal obligations
Constitutions
The politics, there are two different meanings of the word “constitution”
The overall structure of a state’s political system, and its political culture
A specific document that lays down the basic institutions of a state, procedures for
changing them, and the basic rights and obligations of its citizens
Only three states, Israel, New Zealand and the UK do not have a codified constitution.
Why? Long history of traditional government, different documents and precedents over time
Over 20-30 years, why have we had a proliferation of constitutions? Democratic states
Constitutionalism
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