Discuss the view that the UK Constitution has become too flexible (30 marks) The key features of the UK constitution is that it’s uncodified, there’s not a single document stating the rules, its developed from various sources e.g. common law, statutory law, EU Law and relies on tradition as much as nay written documents. The main advantage of this is that it can easily be changed allowing us to evolve E.g. Regional Devolution (Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland). The UK has a unitary constitution, where all power and authority resides in Parliament.
I believe the Constitution did a better job of protecting liberties, specifically in the areas of the federal court system, representation of the people, and the levy of taxes. Alexander Hamilton, statesman and economist, proclaimed "Laws are a dead letter without courts to expound and define their true meaning and operation”. The Articles of Confederation which gave rise to the Confederation government that took effect in March 1781, did not give the national government any means to enforce the federal laws. The states could, and often did, choose to interpret or enforce federal laws in any manner they saw fit. This led to disputes amongst the states that could not be readily settled, as it relied on each state’s court system which invariably chose to discount the ruling of the other states.
A constitutional amendment takes an issue away from the normal process of democracy. However most proposals aren’t inspired by a broad national consensus but instead for political gains, e.g. the day after the Supreme Court ruled flag burning to be protected speech in 1989, the US representative Michael Bilirakis introduced an amendment outlawing desecration of the flag. Amendments to ban flag burning have been introduced in every session of Congress since, spanning more than two decades. Another reason why most proposed amendments fail to pass is the difficulties posed by the very complex amendment process.
Why does the UK have an uncodified constitution? The British Constitution is not contained in any one document nor is there such a thing as higher order law, entrenchment. The Constitution evolved over time and this evolution was first about qualifying the absolute power of the King. Magna Carta 1215 imposed limitations on Royal power. Bill of Rights 1689 laid out basic rights but mainly recognised the shift of power from the King to Parliament.
However, this reform of the judiciary had formed conflicts between the government ministers and the judiciary due to several reasons. These included the risk of citizens’ rights as a result of the increasing political role of the judiciary. Some even suggest that judicial power has become controversial due to its increasing political importance. However, the main reason for this conflict between the executive and judiciary can be said to be the Constitutional Reform Act (2005) and the Human Rights Act (2000). The Constitutional Reform Act was intended to represent a separation from the traditional “fusion” model of the UK Constitution and towards a “more explicit separation of powers”, The Relations between the executive and judiciary would therefore be governed by the Act itself.
This rigidity might suggest that to an extent, US politics is still firmly rooted in the political circumstances of the late 1700s when the constitution was devised, and often struggles to adapt to some changes that occur. For instance, although the American Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865, it was not until the 1960s, almost a hundred years later, when civil rights began to be established, such as by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, passed under President Lyndon B Johnson. The ambiguity of the US constitution, however, can often mean that there is considerable scope for interpretation. For example, the 2nd Amendment states that it is “the right of the People to keep and bear arms”. People have disagreed for years over whether this means it is constitutional for state militias to be formed and armed, or whether it means
If the constitution was codified, it would become entrenched, meaning that for it to be changed, a long arduous process would have to be taken. The current constitution can easily be changed by every government that comes into power, no matter how good or bad the last one was, allowing government to rule comfortably. If the constitution was codified, then a general consensus across all parties would have to be made so that no matter who is in power, the constitution still applies, the way politics works in the UK however, this would probably never happen as each party is very different to the other, and a codified constitution would only limit the abilities of each government. There is a common belief that the UK constitution is organic, that it grows with the nation, and should be able to freely grow like this, for our country to be truly democratic, if the constitution was codified then it would be locked down, and not be able to work as effectively in the future. The UK is one of the only big
Parliamentary sovereignty is the most important part of the UK constitution. People often refer to the UK having an 'unwritten constitution' but that's not strictly true, large parts of it are written down, much of it in the laws passed in Parliament - known as statute law. Therefore, the UK constitution is often described as 'partly written and wholly uncodified' (Uncodified means that the UK does not have a single, written constitution.). Over the years, Parliament has passed laws that limit parliamentary sovereignty. These laws reflect political developments both within and outside the UK.
It has discussed the different types and styles of assemblies and the chief functions such as to enact legislation, act as a representative body and oversee and scrutinise the executive. It has shown how the role of parliaments is changing and the reality is that legislatures do not initiate many policies, more usually they influence or are executive-dominated. The emergence of disciplined political parties, the growth in the role of government and the increasing strength of interest groups and the mass media has changed the way parliaments and assemblies carry out their roles. However, parliaments possess a unique authority to force politicians and civil servants to account for their actions before a body which still represents the nation and remains an essential element in the architecture of democracy. Bibliography Axford, B., Browning, G.K., Huggings, R., Rosamond, B., (2002), Politics an introduction, 2nd ed.
There has been a variety of constitutional reforms set up since Blaire’s election into government in 1997, ranging from matters concerning Westminster to legislature, these reforms however have been of mixed impact. One reform set up in 1998 was the human’s rights act. This made it impossible for government to pass legislature unless it fitted with the convention signed by the British Government in 1950. This reform was of great impact as it meant all legislation passed by Westminster and all devolved assemblies must have been given a compatibility declaration from the European Court of Human Rights. This led to the passing of key legislation such as The prevention of terrorism act 2005 and the Criminal justice act 2003 both of which made a great impact on the electorate.