Interpreting the Constitution Essay

5400 WordsMar 18, 201522 Pages
QUESTION: What rules would you use to interpret the Constitution? A Constitution of a state refers to the basic and fundamental principles which the inhabitants of the state consider to be essential for their governance and well being.[1] A Constitution lays down political and other state institutions and distributes powers among them and puts limitations on the exercise of those powers. In most countries, the fundamental laws of the land are contained in one document or a series of documents for which the word ‘Constitution’ is reserved, but in a few countries like the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, there is no single document which embraces all these rules or which can be referred to specifically as the Constitution of the state. Nevertheless, such countries have Constitutions because the word ‘constitution’ is a legal expression which identifies all the elements of how a country is organised and governed.[2] The difference between the two is one of form rather than substance. It should be noted that the nature of the Constitution depends on the character of the country for which it is intended to govern. There are a number of factors which will have a bearing on the growth, evolution and formulation of a Constitution. The country’s historical, geographical positions, her social structure, her political, economic development, religious beliefs as well as her racial and tribal composition all play a part in formulation, growth and evolution. If a Constitution is to work, it must fulfil the intended purpose and this can be achieved through informed and guided decisions reached at using tools of interpretation. Constitutional interpretation or construction is the process by which meanings are assigned to words in a constitution to enable legal decisions to be made that are justified by it.[3] There is a question whether the meanings

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