Constitutional Law and Justice Resources was last modified: February 9th, 2014 by Howard Iken

Constitutional Law and Justice Resources


Constitutional law is the body of laws used to define the relationship of different powers within a nation state, specifically, executive, legislative, and judiciary entities. Not all nation states have adopted constitutional law; however, all states have a jus commune, aset of underlying laws that consist of a variety of consensual rules and regulations. A jus commune set of laws, also known as the law of the land, may include statuary law, conventions, customary law, judge-made law, and international rules and regulations. A constitution that establishes a federal state will identify the levels of government that possess exclusive or shared areas of jurisdiction in the creation, application, and enforcement of law. Essentially, a constitution ensures that the government conducts itself according to the rule of law.

An Overview of Constitutional Law

In the United States, constitutional law deals with the interpretation and implementation of the U.S. Constitution. The United States Constitution is the foundation of the United States, making constitutional law the basis of government. In fact, it addresses some of the fundamental principles and relationships within U.S. society. This includes the interactions between the three branches of federal government, the states and the federal government, and the rights of U.S. citizens in relation to both state and federal governments. Constitutional law relies heavily on judicial review to deem certain actions by state and federal governments as constitutional. The Supreme Court plays a crucial role in the interpretation of the Constitution in order to preserve and enforce its laws. The study of constitutional law focuses on Supreme Court rulings.

Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights is a legal document that contains the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The first ten amendments grant U.S. citizens a certain number of inalienable rights while limiting the federal government’s power in judicial proceedings. The amendments also grant powers to the state and general public. The Bill of Rights outlines the personal freedoms granted to U.S. citizens as not explicitly detailed in the main body of the Constitution. These personal freedoms include the freedom of religion, speech, the press, and assembly. It also includes personal freedoms to safeguard against tyranny, including the freedom to bear arms, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, freedom of a quick, speedy trial, and more.

Important Supreme Court Decisions

The United States congressional body makes the laws that all U.S. citizens must abide by in order to live in one of the fifty states. The United States Supreme Court determines the constitutionality of those laws. Since the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, many judicial proceedings have led to changes in the interpretation and implementation of constitutional law. In the Miranda vs. Arizona case, the U.S. Supreme Court changed the way law enforcement interacts with an individual placed under arrest. For instance, if an individual placed under arrest admits guilt to the crime he or she committed without being read his or her Miranda Rights, then the admission cannot be allowed as evidence in court. Other landmark Supreme Court cases include Marbury vs. Madison, Roe vs. Wade, and Tinker vs. Des Moines.


Criminal Procedure

Criminal procedure addresses a set of rules and a series of judicial proceedings that the government enforces through criminal law. Federal, states, and municipalities have adopted their own criminal codes that constitute and define criminal conduct. Federal crime is outlined in Title 18 of the United States Code. Federal crimes extend beyond state boundaries or impact federal interests directly. The United States Supreme Court proposed the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which was passed by Congress. The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure outlines the general conduct of federal criminal trials. States have adopted their own criminal procedure that may resemble the conduct outlined in the Federal Rules.



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