Understanding The Constitution Function Types

Understanding The Constitution Function Types

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Understanding The Constitution Function Types

Constitutions can vary according to the kind of political entity they govern and the extent to which they govern it. In this sense, perhaps the most widely considered form of constitutional law is that placed on a national level, as in the case of the United States Constitution, generally considered the modern world's most influential constitution.

 Constitutions may exist for specific regions, provinces or states within the larger framework of a nation and, in that sense, national constitutional law. Constitutional theory also allows for the possible existence of a constitution across national borders, or in the terminology of this area, a supranational constitution. Groups which are not formerly part of governments but which exist for the express purpose of influencing politics, such as unions, interest groups and parties, are likely to also have constitutions. Outside of the political realm, the written framework for large organizations is not often referred to as a constitution but may be plausibly referred to as one.

The essential concept of a constitution is tied in with writing and codification. That being said, some constitutions exist on an unwritten basis. To reach far back in history, the organization of the Iroquois Nation of North America, believed to have occurred somewhere around the 11th and 12th centuries, occurred without any writing but possessed enough similarities to the developing European model for constitutional law to be later cited by the "Founding Fathers" of the United States as an influence.

The best-known of the unwritten constitutions, and one furnished by the European experience, is that of the United Kingdom, which, through its early control over the North American colonies and in other ways, profoundly influenced the rights and provisions addressed in the written United States Constitution.

Another division to be drawn between constitutions can be found on the issue of whether or not they are codified. Codification is the most strategic in constitutional law, but several constitutions exist in the world that are in uncodified form. The concept is similar but not identical to the issue of whether a constitution is written.

Codification generally allows constitutional law to serve as precedent in court over statutory law, as, for instance, in the United States a law might be rejected by the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional. Codification generally occurs first at a single and identifiable historical moment, as in the United States' transition from the Articles of Confederation to a period of Federal power.

Codification of constitutional law generally identifies and firmly guarantees its most basic principles. By contrast, constitutions which are not codified rely on a past body of legal precedent as it has gradually taken shape, rather being decisively put into practice. Non-codified constitutions can be found in complete form in the United Kingdom, Israel and New Zealand, while only partially codified constitutions also exist in Australia and other nations, in the sense of some fundamental principles lying outside the primary document of the constitution. Non-codified constitutions are likely to be "written," however, in the sense of being enumerated in written documents.

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