Constitutional Law

Constitutional law is a broad category of laws that establish the authority and structure of government and protect the rights of citizens. This type of law is enacted, enforced, and upheld by the executive, legislative and judicial branches.

Law students are expected to be familiar with constitutional law and 성범죄전문변호사 to follow high profile cases that set precedents. This requires extensive research.

The Constitution of the United States

The Constitution of the United States is our country’s supreme law. It outlines the national frame and constraints of government and has 27 Amendments, including those known as the Bill of Rights. The framers of the Constitution were especially concerned with limiting the power of government and protecting the liberty of citizens. They incorporated this concern into the doctrine of legislative, executive, and judicial separation of powers, the checks and balances between the three branches of the federal government, and explicit guarantees of individual liberty. These efforts created a document that has survived the periodic stresses of two centuries of American history.

The Articles of Confederation, the short-lived predecessor to the Constitution, had failed in its attempt to forge a nation out of thirteen separate states. The Framers of the Constitution designed the Constitution in such a way that it could be easily amended to adapt to changing circumstances. This flexibility is one reason why the Constitution has lasted as long as it has.

The Constitution of the United States consists of a Preamble, seven Articles, and 27 Amendments. The Congressional Research Service publishes an annotated version of the Constitution, which can be found here. FindLaw also offers a searchable, browsable online version of the Constitution that allows users to navigate its content through links to Supreme Court decisions, other legal sources, and textual analysis.

The Bill of Rights

The first 10 amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, list specific prohibitions on governmental power. Originally drafted by Virginia congressman James Madison, they are intended to protect citizens from government overreach and to provide a framework for legal action against infringements of liberty. They prohibit the federal government from abridging freedoms of speech, assembly and religion, guaranteeing a fair trial and protection against cruel and unusual punishment and against self-incrimination, and barring unreasonable search and seizure.

As soaring principles, the Bill of Rights set forth the most fundamental freedoms in the United States, but to have any real meaning, the rights must be applied to individual cases. This is the task of constitutional law, determining how the Constitution’s guarantees are to be enforced.

The original application of the Bill of Rights was limited to powers of the federal government, as determined in the 1833 Supreme Court decision Barron v. Baltimore. However, the Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, made the Bill of Rights applicable to the state governments as well. Because constitutional law is the basis for interpreting laws at both levels of government, it is essential to maintaining a political system that prevents one branch of the government from becoming too powerful and preserving a structure that allows for checks and balances between different branches.

The Relationship Between the States

The Constitution outlines a system of federalism, in which power is divided between a national (federal) government and the states. This arrangement balances power to promote liberty and regional diversity. The federal system guarantees state governments the freedom to regulate their own citizens and to make laws that are specific to their region. Federalism also allows for cooperation between the two levels of government.

The relationship between the states is further regulated by the Tenth Amendment, which prevents the federal government from interfering with state laws or policies. The Constitution also ensures that states can maintain their independent revenue systems, a key tenet of self-government.

Constitutional law largely involves interpreting the federal constitution, but individual states have their own versions. State constitutions typically repeat many aspects of constitutional law and can elaborate on it, offering additional protection or specifying circumstances in which a particular law applies.

One of the most important provisions in the Constitution is Article IV, which governs the states’ relationships with each other. This includes the promise that all states will give full faith and credit to each other’s public acts, records and judicial proceedings. It also prohibits states from discriminating against citizens of other states or escaping their jurisdiction to evade justice; all US citizens are entitled to the same privileges and immunities in any state.

The Judicial System

The judicial branch of the United States government is made up of Supreme, Circuit and magistrate courts. These are the courts that interpret and implement our nation’s laws. The Constitution gives Congress significant discretion to determine the shape and structure of the federal judiciary, including the number of Justices of the Supreme Court. Justices (also called judges) are nominated by the President, confirmed by the Senate and hold their offices for life unless they resign or are removed through impeachment in the House of Representatives and a conviction by the Senate.

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land and makes the final decision on cases that have made their way up through the court system. It consists of nine Justices who are nominated for their seat by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Justices serve a lifetime appointment and are insulated from political pressure because they do not run or campaign for re-election.

The Supreme Court hears appeals from cases that have been decided by the 94 United States District Courts, 13 United States Courts of Appeals and sometimes County and State Supreme Courts. Judges are supervised and managed by the Chief Judge of the Court who oversees its maintenance and operation, as well as by a panel of judges that hear arguments and hold conferences to reach decisions.