Sample Essay on the Limitations of a Written Constitution

Limitations of a Written Constitution

A constitution is a collection of all the laws that govern a country and stipulates the functions of every organ of the government. Besides, a constitution also outlines all the freedoms, rights and responsibilities of every citizen. It sets out the limits between the government and the people for a more cohesive relationship. Therefore, it is an important document that all countries in the world have. However, it should be noted that there is a written constitution and an unwritten one.

There are various disadvantages that can be drawn from a written constitution. One of them is inconsistency. Just like time changes, the clauses or parts of the constitution also keep changing. For instance, what is regarded constitutionally right today may not be so in the next few weeks, months or even years. Law makers often make changes to the constitution to suit the standards of the day. As much as the amendments made to a constitution may be geared towards the benefit of the public, it only favors a few people especially the law makers or people with the authority of making the changes.

Another disadvantage of a written constitution is that the language that it was constructed in could easily be taken out of context. In many countries that are run by written constitutions, you find that the document used was written several years or even decades ago. It can occur that the language that was used in describing certain clauses or parts of the constitution during that time is quite irrelevant or have different meanings now. Thus, it becomes challenging to interpret the constitution in the present time. This can create conflicts that may end up causing lots of confusion and watering down the powers of the constitution.

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Judicial activism is yet another demerit of a written constitution. This is whereby the courts are accorded the power to come up with their own interpretations of what is intended by the document. This appears more like the judges are given the authority to exercise their rule outside of the law.

According to most people, this amounts to too much power given to the judges. For instance, the Supreme Court in the United States is the only institution that has the ultimate authority according to the constitution. The court is the only body that has the powers to give interpretations of the constitution, thus the American people and legislature are limited from making any decisions on what is meant by their own constitution.

1The process of coming up with a written constitution is a very challenging and expensive exercise. In order for a country to have the document, it can take several years and lots of resources since it is required that the people have to give their submissions that are then reviewed by a committee. Even after the public sentiments have been reviewed, the document still has to go through lots of scrutiny and checks before being passed.

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