Essay About The Constitution

Here is a compilation of essays on the ‘Constitution’ for class 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on the ‘Constitution’ especially written for school and college students.

Essay on Constitution

Essay Contents:

  1. Essay on the Definition of Constitution
  2. Essay on the Utility of the Study of the Constitution
  3. Essay on the Aristotle Classification of the Constitutions
  4. Essay on the Modern View of the Classification of Constitutions
  5. Essay on the Written and Unwritten Constitution
  6. Essay on the Methods of Amending the Constitutions in Different Countries


Essay # 1. Definition of Constitution:

Every state has a constitution of its own, like every game having some rules of its own. Football has one set of rules and the cricket has a different set of rules. These rules for the state are called the constitutions. These rules are there to fix the structure of the supreme government. Every state must have a constitution, since every state functions on the basis of certain rules and principles.

In the broadest sense, a constitution is the fundamental body of rules governing the affairs of an organised group. Thus a parliament, a church, a social club or a trade union may operate under the terms of a formal written document called the constitution.

The provisions made in the constitution are considered to be basic. So the presiding officer of a club must hold that a proposal is out of order if it runs contrary to the provisions of its constitution.

Every national state has a constitution for the purpose of operating its important institutions according to some fundamental body of rules. In that sense, the only alternative to a constitution is a jungle life or a condition of anarchy.

The constitution is the fundamental law that not only determines the powers and responsibilities of the state but reflects the will of the people also. For R. M. MacIver, constitution is “that law which governs the state and which represents the will beyond that of the state.”

To Theodore Dwight Woolsey, it is a “Collection of principles according to which the powers of the government and the rights of the governed are determined and the relation between the two adjusted”.

Albert Venn Dicey’s definition of the constitution is “All rules which directly or indirectly affect the distribution or the exercise of sovereign power in the state”. Herman Finer’s concept of the constitution is precise – “A system of fundamental political institution”.

The accumulated material and the spiritual circumstances of the time are mirrored through the constitution. The political philosophy of the people and their time are reflected through the constitution. With the change in the philosophy of the people the constitution also changes. The constitution is the key to the forms of the government.

As R. G. Gettel rightly observes:

“The fundamental principles that determine the form of a state are called its constitution”.

According to Herman Finer:

“Constitutions are codes of rules which aspire to regulate the allocation of functions, powers and duties among the various agencies and offices of the government and define the relationships between these and the public”. The constitution may be a single document and it may be also some rules, maxims and conventions. So every constitution contains some written provisions and also some unwritten conventions.

The above account tells us that a constitution should possess the following attributes:

(i) It should lay down the powers of the government and the different organs of the government like the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.

(ii) In a federation the constitution distributes the powers between the federal authority and the units.

(iii) The constitution also deals with the rights and duties of the citizens.


Essay # 2. Utility of the Study of the Constitution:

First, a study of the constitution tells us the important things about the quality and temper of political behaviour in the country and at the same time points out the active sources of political powers.

Secondly, it gives us insight into the essential core of the government of that country and the basic structure behind the constitution statute.

Thirdly, without a knowledge of the constitution statute we cannot know whether there has been any breach of any provision of the constitution. From this we may further go to know: who has broken the rule? Why has the rule been broken? What are the effects of such breach of rules?

Lastly, from a study of the constitution we have an exact knowledge of what happens or who does what, where and when a highly important affair occasions. Thus from a study of the constitution of the USA we know that every fourth year the electors will vote for a President and the Vice-President.

Suppose the President of the French Republic is incapacitated or declared insane or resigns, who will take over from the President for the time being? What will happen after that? Or, suppose the President has dissolved the National Assembly and dislikes the result of the subsequent election, can he dissolve the assembly again and order for a new election? The answer is that he cannot until one year elapses.


Essay # 3. Aristotle Classification of the Constitutions:

It was the Greek philosopher Aristotle who was the first to classify the constitutions. He had two criteria in classifying the constitutions. The first criterion was quality of the constitution. So on this basis Aristotle had two kinds of constitutions, namely good or pure and bad or perverted constitutions, depending on the ability of a particular system to achieve justice.

He defined monarchy as a rule by a virtuous man and considered it as the best form of constitution. According to him, tyranny was the rule by a selfish man which was the worst form of the perverted system. His second best constitution was aristocracy which was a rule by a virtuous few. The third best was polity or moderate democracy.

The extreme democracy which is a rule by the mob was considered the best of the perverted form of government. According to Aristotle, oligarchy, which was a rule by a selfish minority, was the perverted form of aristocracy.

Thus applying his second criterion of quantity he lists his constitution as monarchy (or tyranny), aristocracy (or oligarchy) and polity (or democracy). In a monarchy or tyranny the supreme power is vested in a single man. In an aristocracy or oligarchy the rulers are a few people. In a polity or democracy the supremacy lies with the whole body of the citizens.

Criticism of Aristotle’s Classification of the Constitutions:

Aristotle’s classification is not of the constitutions but one of the forms of government Modern constitutions is classified into written and unwritten, rigid and flexible and enacted and evolves constitutions. Aristotle’s difference between aristocracy and oligarchy is misleading.

His difference between good and bad is something of interpretation and so this classification is unscientific. Again, Aristotle’s concept of democracy is just the opposite to what we mean by democracy. So Aristotle’s classification is to be described as old, unscientific, misleading and incorrect.


Essay # 4. Modern View of the Classification of Constitutions:

1.Written Constitution:

A written constitution is a written piece of document enacted in the manner of laws.

The conscious and deliberate wishes of the people are reduced into writing after thorough consideration of all aspects of the matter.

It is drawn up by the representatives of the people. The constitution of the USA was the first written constitution to be drafted by a Constituent Assembly.

The constitution of India was enacted by the Constituent Assembly duly elected by the people for the purpose of making the constitution. The written constitution has a date of its commencement. The constitution of India commence on 26 January 1950. A written constitution is precise, definite and systematic.

Merits of Written Constitution:

In the first place, the written constitution is definite and precise. Since all the powers and functions of the different organs of the government are written down there is no scope of one travelling into the territory of other. A single document constitution has such advantages as greater precision, simplicity and consistency.

In the second place, the written constitution guarantees the fundamental rights. In a written constitution there is not only clear power of the various authorities but the basic rights of the people also. The result is that the government cannot behave arbitrarily and cannot take away the fundamental rights of the people.

In the third place, a written constitution is a must in a federal form of government. In a federation the central government and the provincial government both derive their power from the constitution and it is imperative that which power belongs to whom must be clearly laid down in the body of the constitution.

There is no better way of having it than getting all such powers written down in the body of the constitution. So a federation will be unworkable without a written constitution.

Demerits of Written Constitution:

In the first place, a written constitution has the disadvantage of its too much details and rigidity. The constitution of the USA with 7,000 words is a model of brevity, whereas the 1950 constitution of India with 395 Articles and eight Schedules is the wordiest of all national constitutions.

The rigidity hampers growth and adjustment to the changing social and economic conditions. And so there is the inherent danger of a revolution or political upheaval under a written constitution.

In the second place, a written constitution is a lengthy affair. This unusually lengthiness may lead to disputes and litigations. Experience shows that some written constitutions are too much detailed. They invite disputes and litigation.

In other words, they inject too much rigidity in cases where flexibility is preferable. Again, since a very long constitution says too many things on too many subjects, it must be amended time and again. This will make the constitution still longer.

In the third place, the procedure in a written constitution is difficult and time-consuming. Written constitutions are not only likely to give rise to greater problems of interpretations than un-written ones. They are also harder to change. The corresponding merits of unwritten constitutions are that they tend to change gradually, continually and often imperceptibly in response to the changing needs.

But when a constitution lays down the exact procedures for the election of the President, for relation between the executive and legislative branches, or for defining whether a particular governmental function is to be performed by the federal government or a member province, then the only constitutional way to change these procedures is by means of the procedure provided by the constitution itself or by its own amendment. This is not only difficult but time-consuming too.

2. Unwritten Constitution:

In an unwritten constitution there is nothing like an enactment of laws by a Constituent Assembly composed of the representatives of the people. It is mainly a collection of customs, conventions, traditions and some written laws drawn unsystematically at different points of time. It is a growth of historical accidents and chances. It has no date of commencement.

The classic example of the unwritten constitution is the constitution of England. New Zealand and Israel are the other two countries with unwritten constitutions. As to the English constitutions written parts are chiefly the Magna Carta granted by King John in the thirteenth century.

The second written installment of the constitution of England was the Bill of Rights of 1689 granted by King William III after the Glorious Revolution. The Act of Settlement of 1701 and the three Reforms Bills are the other written parts of the British constitution. The gaps are to be filled up by the customs, traditions and national spirit of the people of England.

Merits of Unwritten Constitution:

In the first place, an unwritten constitution has the advantage of adjustability and adaptability. It can change like a branch of tree is pulled out to allow a motor vehicle to pass the tree, a written constitution enables the government to meet any political storm by dint of its flexibility.

In the second place, there is little scope for revolt or political turmoil under an unwritten constitution, because there is a lot of flexibility in the constitution. So it meets an emergency half-way and avoids bloodshed and revolutions.

So a government under an unwritten constitution is more durable than that under a written one. For example, there have been rare occasions for England to face any serious political upheaval.

In the third place, an unwritten constitution is of special advantage for a developing country. In a newly developing state such as Israel, the balance of advantage has been found in an un-written or un codified constitution evolving through the growth of customs and modicum of statutes.

Demerits of Unwritten Constitution:

In the first place, an un-written constitution is indefinite, vague and un-precise. Since nothing is put into writing, there is every likelihood of abuse of powers by the authorities. There is also the danger of conflicts about the power and jurisdiction of various organs of government.

In the second place, there is no guarantee of fundamental rights in an unwritten constitution. In the absence of clear mentions of the fundamental rights the individual liberties are at stake under an unwritten constitution.

In the third place, a federal government cannot function under an unwritten constitution. This is so because in a federation there must be a clear demarcating line with regard to the powers and functions of the federal government and the units, both of which must derive their power from the constitution. Thus flexible constitution may be a plaything in the hands of an irresponsible parliament.

Lastly, it makes the legislature all-powerful, which may introduce drastic changes in the constitution detrimental to the interest of the nation.

Many juristic writers, notably Lord James Bryce, have classified constitutions as being either rigid or flexible depending upon the methods by which they are changed. The constitution of England was described as flexible because it can be amended by the parliament in the ordinary legislative way.

Since the constitution of the USA can be amended only by an extraordinary method, namely by two-thirds majority of both the houses of parliament plus ratification by three-fourths of the states, it is called a rigid constitution.

A flexible constitution can be amended as an ordinary law in the ordinary way. So under a flexible constitution there is no difference between an ordinary law and constitutional law with regard to the procedure of alternations.

3. Rigid Constitution:

A rigid constitution is one which cannot be amended in the same way as an ordinary law is made or changed. When a special procedure is called upon to amend the constitution the constitution, is called rigid. According to R. G. Gettell – “Its laws are thus fixed and emanate from a source different from that of ordinary laws, which must keep within the bounds fixed by the constitution”.

Thus neither the ordinary legislature nor the ordinary procedure is competent to amend the rigid constitution. Under a rigid constitution a difference is made between a constitutional law and an ordinary law.

Their constitutional law stands on a superior footing than an ordinary law. Under a rigid constitution the constitutional law being supreme, any law that runs contrary to the constitutional provisions is null and void. Not only that. Under a rigid constitution the legislature is not supreme or sovereign authority. Sovereignty lies with the constitution.

The typical example of the rigid constitution is the constitution of the USA. There a distinction is made between the constitutional law and the ordinary law. The USA constitution cannot be amended like an ordinary law of USA.

While an ordinary law can be made or changed by a simple majority in the legislature this is not the case with regard to the amendment of constitution, which needs agreement of two-thirds majority of the legislature and ratification by three-fourths of the states.

Merits of Rigid Constitution:

First, a rigid constitution is more stable than a flexible one. It being solid like a rock it cannot be swayed by the temporary emotion or commotion of the people.

Secondly, the rigid constitution is clear and definite. The provisions of the constitution have been carefully worded by the makers of the constitution and so there is no confusion or ambiguity about the provisions of the constitution.

Thirdly, a rigid constitution provides for the fundamental rights and thereby ensures individual liberty. This is of paramount benefit for the minorities.

Fourthly, a rigid constitution is indispensable for a federation. There must be some rigidity with regard to the powers of the federal authority vis-a-vis that of the units to avoid misgivings and to remove doubts.

Lastly, rigidity of the constitution is the symbol of its sovereignty. The people respect a constitution which stands for supremacy. Thus the people take pledge in the name of the constitution as if somebody is taking oath by putting his hand on the Gita or the Bible or the Koran.

Demerits of Rigid Constitution:

The most serious flaw of a rigid constitution is that it cannot swiftly bend to meet some exigency. A time may come when the people cannot wait for amending the constitution in a time-consuming procedure. In the absence of such adaptability there may break out violence and revolution.

It is said that the French Revolution of 1789 broke out because the evils in the constitution of France could not be cured quickly and the people demanding for sweeping changes could not wait for a long and indefinite period of expectancy.

So T. B. Macaulay rightly condemned the rigid constitution in the words- “One important cause of the revolution is that while nations move onward the constitutions stand.”

The second disadvantage of a rigid constitution is that a country cannot progress along the new socio-economic lines under a rigid constitution.

Can a person continue to wear the same garment during the childhood, youth and old age? But under a rigid constitution he cannot outgrow his childhood.

This is best asserted by Jawaharlal Nehru – “While we want this constitution to be as solid and permanent as we can make it, there is no permanence in the constitutions. There should be a certain flexibility. If you make anything rigid and permanent, you stop the nation’s growth, the growth of a living, vital, organic people. In any event, we could not make this constitution so rigid that it cannot be adapted to changing conditions.”

4. Flexible Constitution:

A constitution is said to be flexible when the procedure for its amendment is like that of an-ordinary law. So there is no distinction made between the constitutional law and ordinary law with regard to the procedure of amendment of the same. From this it follows that under a flexible constitution there is no difference between the constitutional law and ordinary law at all.

Under a flexible constitution the legislature is the sovereign and there is nobody to question the unconstitutionality or illegality of any law made by the legislature. The classic example of flexible constitution is that of England. The parliament of England can do anything and everything, except making a man into woman.

Merits of Flexible Constitution:

The major merit of a flexible constitution is that it can easily adapt itself to the new conditions or to meet any eventuality. Since it is flexible, it can bend without breaking. It is very useful for every new and developing country.

Secondly, a flexible constitution can avoid a political crisis like a revolt or revolution. Since the passions of the people can be met by bending the constitutional framework, it can easily avert a serious political crisis. That is why there has been no serious political chaos in England.

Demerits of Flexible Constitution:

The major defect of a flexible constitution is its instability and lack or permanence. It is a dangerous suggestion that the structure of the constitution can be drastically changed by the wave of popular passion. If it so happens it is bound to harm the nation.

Secondly, a flexible constitution does not suit a federation because the division of power and respective jurisdiction between the federal authority and the federating provinces must rest on some permanent and durable foundation. If a power given to a province is taken away in the manner of amending an ordinary law, where will be the guarantee of the federation?


Essay # 5. Written and Unwritten Constitution:

A constitution may be either written or unwritten. The USA has a written constitution, but the constitution of England is unwritten. The USA has a formal single document called the constitution, whereas there is no such document in England.

The written aspect of the British constitution includes the Bill of rights (1689), the Act of Settlement (1701), the Parliament Act of 1911, and the Representation of the People Act which extended the suffrage. These were never codified within the structure of a single orderly document. So we find that the constitution of England is not wholly unwritten.

We have also noticed that some written ness is there in the constitution of England. It is at the same time to be admitted that the USA constitution is not wholly a written document. The American people follow some conventions and traditions which are as good as the written words of the constitution. So we find that the USA constitution provides for an indirect election of the President but the convention has made the election rather direct.

Again, although the constitution of the USA provides for separation of powers, the President of the USA, in effect, is not only the chief executive but the chief legislator also. If it is so, where is the demarcating line between the written and unwritten constitution? The answer is that a written constitution is predominantly written and an unwritten constitution is predominantly unwritten. The distinction between the written and unwritten constitutions is not scientific. The former is precise, definite and systematic. The latter is unsystematic, indefinite and unprecise.

Merits of Written Constitution:

In the first place, the written constitution is definite and precise. Since all the powers and functions of the different organs of the government are written down there is no scope of one travelling into the territory of other. A single document constitution has such advantages as greater precision, simplicity and consistency.

In the second place, the written constitution guarantees the fundamental rights. In a written constitution there is not only clear power of the various authorities but the basic rights of the people also. The result is that the government cannot behave arbitrarily and cannot take away the fundamental rights of the people.

In the third place, a written constitution is a must in a federal form of government. In a federation the central government and the provincial government both derive their power from the constitution and it is imperative that which power belongs to whom must be clearly laid down in the body of the constitution. There is no better way of having it than getting all such powers written down in the body of the constitution. So a federation will be unworkable without a written constitution.

Demerits of Written Constitution:

In the first place, a written constitution has the disadvantage of its too much details and rigidity. The constitution of the USA with 7,000 words is a model of brevity, whereas the 1950 constitution of India with 395 Articles and eight Schedules is the wordiest of all national constitutions. The rigidity hampers growth and adjustment to the changing social and economic conditions. And so there is the inherent danger of a revolution or political upheaval under a written constitution.

In the second place, a written constitution is a lengthy affair. This unusually lengthiness may lead to disputes and litigations. Experience shows that some written constitutions are too much detailed. They invite disputes and litigation. In other words, they inject too much rigidity in cases where flexibility is preferable. Again, since a very long constitution says too many things on too many subjects, it must be amended time and again. This will make the constitution still longer.

In the third place, the procedure in a written constitution is difficult and time-consuming. Written constitutions are not only likely to give rise to greater problems of interpretations than un-written ones. They are also harder to change. The corresponding merits of unwritten constitutions are that they tend to change gradually, continually and often imperceptibly in response to the changing needs.

But when a constitution lays down the exact procedures for the election of the President, for relation between the executive and legislative branches, or for defining whether a particular governmental function is to be performed by the federal government or a member province, then the only constitutional way to change these procedures is by means of the procedure provided by the constitution itself or by its own amendment. This is not only difficult but time-consuming too.

Merits of Unwritten Constitution:

In the first place, an unwritten constitution has the advantage of adjustability and adaptability. It can change like a branch of tree is pulled out to allow a motor vehicle to pass the tree, a written constitution enables the government to meet any political storm by dint of its flexibility.

In the second place, there is little scope for revolt or political turmoil under an unwritten constitution, because there is a lot of flexibility in the constitution. So it meets an emergency half-way and avoids bloodshed and revolutions. So a government under an unwritten constitution is more durable than that under a written one. For example, there have been rare occasions for England to face any serious political upheaval.

In the third place, an unwritten constitution is of special advantage for a developing country. In a newly developing state such as Israel, the balance of advantage has been found in an un-written or un codified constitution evolving through the growth of customs and modicum of statutes.

Demerits of Unwritten Constitution:

In the first place, an unwritten constitution is indefinite, vague and unprecise. Since nothing is put into writing, there is every likelihood of abuse of powers by the authorities. There is also the danger of conflicts about the power and jurisdiction of various organs of government.

In the second place, there is no guarantee of fundamental rights in an unwritten constitution. In the absence of clear mentions of the fundamental rights the individual liberties are at stake under an unwritten constitution.

In the third place, a federal government cannot function under an unwritten constitution. This is so because in a federation there must be a clear demarcating line with regard to the powers and functions of the federal government and the units, both of which must derive their power from the constitution. Thus flexible constitution may be a plaything in the hands of an irresponsible parliament.

Lastly, it makes the legislature all-powerful, which may introduce drastic changes in the constitution detrimental to the interest of the nation.

Conclusion:

The advantages and disadvantages of the written and unwritten constitution mentioned above are rather theoretical. The success of a government does not depend on the written or un-written elements of it. While the constitution of England is un-written, that of the USA is written. Both are the leading democracies in the world.

It is not known that any country failed to attain its goals for want of a written constitution or an unwritten one. Although England has no written constitution enshrining the fundamental rights, the people of England enjoy more fundamental rights and individual liberties than in any country of the world.

Actually, different methods suit different political and social systems. During the Second World War the parliamentary election in England was not held because of the war conditions. But in the same year the presidential election was held in the USA because it was a must under the written provisions of the constitution. There was no demand in the USA to scrap the written constitution on the ground that it is unworkable during emergency.


Essay # 6. Methods of Amending the Constitutions in Different Countries:

The constitution, like all laws, is to serve the needs of the contemporary society. For making such changes in the constitution there are different modes laid down in different constitutions.

These different procedures are significant. It may need something more than the parliamentary majority. There are additional requirements such as a joint session of both the houses of the law-making body. It sometimes needs more than one debate and the lapse of certain amount of time between the proposal and the debate.

The constitutions of England and Canada may be amended by the national legislature acing through a simple parliamentary majority. In some countries the constitution cannot be amended by the national law-making body alone.

Again, many constitutions cannot be amended by the legislature alone but may need action by other bodies as well. Thus the constitution of USA can be amended only by:

(i) A two-thirds majority vote in each house of the Congress or

(ii) A convention called by the two-thirds of the states – with subsequent ratification, in either case, by the legislatures or especially elected conventions of three-fourths of the states.

In India the constitution can be amended by two-thirds majority in each house of the parliament. In cases where it involves a division of power between the union and the states the amendment must be approved by half of the states.

Some popular voting is called for in the constitutional amendment of some countries. For example, an amendment of the constitution of Australia can be done through some sort of popular voting. Thus, after obtaining an absolute majority in the parliament, the amendment must secure a majority vote in a popular referendum.

The Belgian constitution may be amended by a two-thirds vote of both the houses of parliament but only after a dissolution of that body and an intervening election. The constitution of Japan needs a two-thirds vote in the parliament to be followed by a popular referendum.

The parliament of Denmark after adoption of a constitutional amendment is to be dissolved and the new parliament constituted after fresh election must support the amendment. The constitution of Ireland is amenable by a simple majority of both the houses of parliament subject to approval by a popular referendum.

In Switzerland all constitutional amendments must be approved by a majority vote in a national referendum followed by a favourable decision in the majority of the cantons. These amendments may be initiated by a popular petition signed by one lakh voters or by the national legislature.


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History and Purpose of the US Constitution Essay

1092 Words5 Pages

When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution in 1787, the United States just had 13 states. The Founding Fathers believed that more states would want to join the Union in the future. They saw that it would be significant for new states to have the same form of government as the original states had. Since then there are now over 50 states that have similar characteristics which were developed centuries ago; although, resembling the creation of new ideas and inventions, current state government had many problems from being the way it is today, it also has many important features that benefit many people, as well as plays an important role in how American democracy and government works. The 13 original states were individual colonies…show more content…

When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution in 1787, the United States just had 13 states. The Founding Fathers believed that more states would want to join the Union in the future. They saw that it would be significant for new states to have the same form of government as the original states had. Since then there are now over 50 states that have similar characteristics which were developed centuries ago; although, resembling the creation of new ideas and inventions, current state government had many problems from being the way it is today, it also has many important features that benefit many people, as well as plays an important role in how American democracy and government works. The 13 original states were individual colonies before independence in 1777, they adopted a federalist system and for 13 years they were independent units under the Articles of Confederation. Under Article II of the Articles of Confederation, “each state retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every Power, jurisdiction and right…” (Lowi, 2007, pg. 22). As a direct result the states had retained too much power relative to the national government, a problem which led to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. This convention placed major limitations on state authority. Under Article IV the Constitution, federal laws, and other treaties between U.S. and other countries make up the supreme law of the country. As a result outcome the framers of the Constitution feared that the

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