Advantages and Disadvantages of Written and Unwritten Constitutions

3298 words 14 pages
Identify and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of written and unwritten types of constitutions.

A constitution is a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or organization is governed, especially when embodying the rights of subjects. A constitution sets out how all the elements of Government are organized and how power is carved up among different political units. It contains rules about what power is wielded, who wields it and over whom it is wielded in the governing of a country. As a kind of deal or contract between those in power and those who are subjected to this power, a constitution defines the rights and duties of citizens and the devices that keep those in power in check. A
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A crucial function of a constitution and a classic feature of democracy is the division of power among the three pillars of Government, i.e. the legislative, the executive and the judiciary. The legislature makes laws and monitors the executive. The executive makes policy, proposes laws and implements laws passed by the legislatures and the judiciary tries cases and administer justice. Each arm of the state keeps watch over the powers of the other. The courts can judge the actions of the legislature and the executive but cannot pass laws. The legislature can make laws but cannot hand down judgments or take executive action. The challenge is to ensure that the executives do not wield its authority without being contained by the other branches. Division of power in this way ensures checks and balances within the system in a country. Lord Action’s assumption was, “power corrupts: absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The concentration of all power into the hands of one individual or group places them in a position to abuse that power and thus to instill fear into the common man, hence the need for the doctrine of the separation of powers in a democracy.

The written document has an educational value in that it highlights the central values and overall goals of the political system. The ceremonial preamble of the Trinidad and Tobago’s constitution makes reference to the supremacy of God, fundamental human