• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Comparison of US and UK Constitution

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

To what extent do the constitutions of the USA and UK differ? According to Hague and Harrop (2001, pp 187), a Constitution sets out the formal structure of the state, it specifies the powers and institutions of central government, and its balance with central authority. It lists the rights of citizens and, as such, creates limits on and duties for the government. So a constitution is a set of rules and principles. It defines the power between government and the governed. It's the centre and foundation of any democratic society. The constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law of the USA and, together with the Bill of Rights, which guarantees a citizen's political and civil liberties, is the world's oldest written constitution still in force today. It contains approximately 4000 words and was ratified in 1788 and inaugurated in 1789 (Almond et al, 2006, pp 744). The US constitution is firmly entrenched and most Americans know their constitution outlining their rights as citizens and the limits of their government. Because of this, any amendments to the US constitution needs a two third majority in both houses and the approval of three quarters of the states that make up America. ...read more.

Middle

Legal sovereignty is also said to reside with parliament but there is some debate over how much sovereignty has been transferred to the EU as some EU laws are superior to UK laws. Unlike the US, Britain has no enforceable Bill of Rights in its constitution. However the European Human Rights Act does go some way to offer the British citizen with a degree of protection if they feel their rights are violated in some way. This is at the highest level however and initially Brits must appeal to Westminster in the first instance. Perhaps the most obvious difference between the US and UK is how the constitution in the US produces the federal system of government as opposed to the UK unitary system. America's horizontal distribution of power provides for a decentralised political system. Power is shared from national government to state government with each state having its own legislative authority, tax raising and military power. The US constitution provides that the federal state and local government all have constitutionally guaranteed powers. The constitution is concerned about the separation of powers within the government and there are checks and balances in place to ensure no one serving politician has power over another thus preventing a confluence of power in one institution. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is not divided like the USA which is a federal republic that closely adheres to the separations of powers outlined in its constitution in order to prevent the domination of one branch of government over another. The US constitution is indeed written and codified into one formal document containing the Bill of Rights and other various amendments. Whilst the US constitution would seem quite inflexible, it has through a variety of mechanisms, adapted to the changing needs of American society. These mechanisms are formed through various legislation, executive agreements and judicial reviews which, although not as solid as the constitution, are nevertheless treated with the highest regard. The UK constitution is formed from a variety of sources including statute and common law and various conventions but is unwritten and not codified in a single document. It appears more flexible than its US counterpart and has adapted to the changing needs of society quite easily. The US constitution clearly states a separation of powers in government, the UK's does not. The political system that each constitution produces, again superficially appears to be vastly different. With the inclusion of EU law into the UK's constitution and devolved assemblies in Scotland and Wales, the UK unitary political system starts to resemble a much more federal system like the US. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level United States section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level United States essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    "The Main Difference Between the UK And US Constitution Is That One Is Flexible ...

    4 star(s)

    Brown v. Topeka Board of Education 1954 saw the Supreme Court take huge steps by desegregating schools and in areas where this was not respected troops were sent in to ensure it was carried out. Roe v. Wade 1973 the Supreme Court made it legal for women to seek abortion in the first three months of pregnancy.

  2. Do the strengths of the US constitution outweigh its weaknesses?

    the legislature has had little choice but to go along with the President or else face seeming unpatriotic. This goes against the Founding Fathers wishes whereby they intended the President to be reactive and the Legislature to be proactive, however it would seem that the roles have been reversed.

  1. How well does the US Constitution Work

    The people would then pay for these entitlements either directly to corporations or via taxes, which are then in turn sent to corporations. This is often called a "conservative" or "right-wing" economic policy. It is conservative because of the reduced influence of government.

  2. To what extent has the Constitution protected civil liberties in America?

    It was said that "any or all persons maybe excluded" and were locked up without trial and the government temporarily removed their rights in states such as California and Oregon. This was a violation of amendment 5 as there was no "due process cause".

  1. 'The President faces considerable constraints in domestic policy in comparison to the UK Prime ...

    perceived to be the fault of the Chancellor of the Exchequer by the electorate. In the USA, the Budget is the 'acid-test' of a President and so the Chief executive is seem by the public to be incompetent if a Budget is unsuccessful.

  2. Compare and contrast the extent to which the Cabinet has an important part to ...

    This is unlike the UK where the executive is responsible for nearly all legislation and controls the agenda except on 17 days when the opposition can and when time is set aside for PMB's.

  1. Critically analyse the appointment and confirmation process for nominees in the US Supreme Court

    The senate have also been criticised for focusing on opportunities to attack and embarrass the nominee. ?They are more interested with scandal, innuendo and gossip than competence?[16]. This occurred during Clarence Thomas? hearings. In this instance the Senate could have justifiably questioned Thomas? nomination on his lacklustre qualifications, considering the

  2. Assess the view that the US Constitution often ensures limited government

    The executive has exercised this power 2564 times, and only 110 times has Congress overruled this veto[12]. This power to veto by the president substantially limits the president, shown by the fact that over the past 200 years, the executive alone has prevented 2454 bills from being passed.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work