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UNIT 5. CONSTITUTIONS OF THE USA AND THE UK




1. Прочитайте текст и ответьте на вопросы:

1.When was the US Constitution adopted?

2.What does the US Constitution consist of?

3.How are the first 10 amendments to the US Constitution called?

4.What rights and liberties are protected under the Bill of Rights?

5.What is required in federal criminal cases?

6.What kind of trial is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights?

7.What are key features of the US Constitution?

8.What are the three branches of power according to the Constitution?

9.Is there a strict separation of powers?

10.Does any branch have more power than the others?

11.What duties does every branch have regarding the other branches under the principle of checks and balances?

12.What are the composition and powers of the judicial branch according to the US Constitution?

THE US CONSTITUTION

 

The form of the US government is based on the Constitution of 1787 which was adopted after the War of Independence. The US Constitution consists of 7 articles and 27 amendments. The first 10 amendments are called the Bill of Rights and were adopted in 1791 under popular pressure.

The Bill of Rights is a series of limitations on the power of the United States federal government, protecting the natural rights and liberties, property including freedom of religion, freedom of speech, a free press, free assembly, and free association, as well as the right to keep and carry arms. In federal criminal cases, it requires indictment by a grand jury for any capital crime, guarantees a speedy, public trial with an impartial jury composed of members of the state in which the crime occurred. Key feature of the US Constitution is federalism - the division of power between the national government and the states. Another major feature of the Constitution is the principle of the separation of powers within the national government. According to this principle the executive, legislative and judicial branches exercise powers that are largely separate and distinct. There is not a strict and complete separation of powers, the powers of the three branches overlap. Each branch has its own responsibilities, but no branch has more power than the other branches. There is the system of checks and balances, that is each branch has certain duties to check the powers of the other branches. This system was meant to protect against the extremes since it makes compromise and consensus necessary. Legislative branch is called the Congress which consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. It is the responsibility of the Congress to propose and pass laws. In the system of checks and balances, Congress can refuse to approve Presidential appointments and can override presidential veto. Executive branch consists of the President, the Vice President, the Cabinet and the 13 Departments, and also of the independent agencies. Its responsibility is to enforce laws. According to the principle of checks and balances, the President has the power of veto to reject the bill of the Congress. He also appoints all Supreme Court Justices. Judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court, 11 Circuit Courts of Appeals and 94 District Courts. This branch explains and interprets laws and makes decisions in lawsuits. It has the power over the other two branches and according to the principle of checks and balances can declare their actions and laws unconstitutional in case they violate the principles of the Constitution.

2. Выразите согласие/несогласие со следующими утверждениями, используя ту или иную речевую модель



Model:

c)I think it is true. The text tells us that ………

d)To my mind, it is false because …………

1.The US Constitution was adopted in 1918 after the World War I.

2.The first 10 amendments are called the Bill of Rights.

3.The Bill of Rights sets forth the structure of the Federal Government.

4.The key features of the US Constitution are federalism, the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances.

5.The legislative branch has more powers then the others.

6.The powers of the three branches don't overlap.

7.The system of checks and balances was meant to protect against the extremes.

8.The responsibilities of the Congress are to protect the rights of citizens and enforce laws.

9.The executive branch consists of the President, the Vice President, the Cabinet and the 13 Departments, and also of the independent agencies.

10.The judicial branch explains and interprets laws and makes decisions in lawsuits.

3. Прочитайте текст и ответьте на вопросы

1.What makes the UK Constitution different from other constitutions?

2.What are the sources of the UK Constitution?

3.What is the core principle of the UK Constitution?

4.What bodies represent the three branches of power (executive, legislative and judiciary)?

THE BRITISH CONSTITUTION

The British Constitution is unwritten unlike the constitution in America or the proposed European Constitution, and as such, is referred to as an uncodified constitution in the sense that there is no single document that can be identified as Britain's constitution. The British Constitution can be found in a variety of documents. The main ones are: Statutes (the Magna Carta of 1215 and the Act of Settlement of 1701), Acts of Parliament; customs and traditions, political conventions, case law; constitutional matters decided in a court of law.

Since the English Civil War, the core principle of the British constitution has traditionally been the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty, according to which the statutes passed by Parliament are the UK's supreme and final source of law. It follows that Parliament can change the constitution simply by passing new Acts of Parliamentto to be followed by the Royal Assent. There is some debate about whether this principle remains entirely valid today, in part due to the UK's European Union membership.

According to the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty, Parliament may pass any legislation that it wishes. There are many Acts of Parliament which themselves have constitutional significance. For example, Parliament has the power to determine the length of its own term. However, the Sovereign retains the power to dissolve parliament at any time on the advice of the Prime Minister. Parliament also has the power to change the structure of its constituent houses and the relation between them. consists of the Sovereign, the House of Commons and the House of Lords. All the legislation must receive the approval of the Sovereign (Royal Assent). Following the accession of the UK to European Economic Community (now the European Union) in 1972, the UK became bound by European law and more importantly, the principle of the supremacy of European Union law. House of Commons alone possesses the power to pass a motion of no confidence in the Government, which requires the Government either to resign or seek fresh elections. Such a motion does not require passage by the Lords, or Royal Assent. Parliament traditionally also has the power to remove individual members of the government by impeachment. By the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 it has the power to remove individual judges from office for misconduct. executive power in the United Kingdom is exercised by the Sovereign through Her Majesty's Government. The monarch appoints a Prime Minister as the head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister then selects the other Ministers which make up the Government. As in some other parliamentary systems of government, the executive is answerable to Parliament. Courts of the United Kingdom are separated into three separate jurisidictions serving England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as the United Kingdom does not have a single unified judicial system. Constitutional Reform Act 2005 created a new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to take over the judicial functions of the House of Lords and devolution cases from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The Supreme Court began work in 2009, and serves as the highest court of appeal in England and Wales and in Northern Ireland, and for civil cases in Scotland. The High Court of Justiciary will remain the court of last resort in Scotland for criminal cases.

4. Согласитесь или опровергните следующие утверждения

1.The British Constitution is unwritten like the Constitutions of the USA and the Proposed European Constitution.

2.The British Constitution can be found in a variety of documents.

3.Amendments to the British Constitution need the approval of the both Houses of Parliament, but they do not need the Royal Assent.

4.The parliamentary sovereignty has always been the core principle of the British Constitution.

5.The Sovereign has no power to dissolve parliament.

6.Parliament has no power to change the structure of its houses.

7.The British Parliament consists only of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

8.The European law has priority over the UK law.

9.The executive power in the United Kingdom is exercised by the Sovereign.

10.The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 created a new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

5. Прочитайте текст о разных видах конституции и переведите его письменно.

Types of Constitutions

Constitution is a system which establishes the fundamental rules and principles which a state will use to govern and regulate. There are several types of constitutions: written/unwritten constitution, rigid/flexible constitution, federal/unitary constitution. The term written constitution is used to describe a constitution that is entirely written, that is codified in one single document. Written constitutions normally consist of a ceremonial preamble, which sets forth the goals of the state and the motivation for the constitution, and several articles containing the substantive provisions. The term unwritten constitution is used to describe a based on series of laws over time. Unwritten constitutions could contain written sources: e.g. constitutional statutes enacted by the Parliament; and also unwritten sources: constitutional conventions, customs and traditions. Historians use the term rigid to describe the Constitution because the provisions are in a written document that cannot be legally changed with the same ease and in the same manner as ordinary laws. On the other hand, the Constitution is called flexible because it is an unwritten document that can be changed by an act of Parliament or through a process of amendment. Federal constitution establishes the division of authority between the Federal Government and the component units of the government. In a federal constitution, sovereignty is invested in the central government. It allows a limited amount of government among units. Unitary constitution relates to the parliament. It follows parliamentary system of power. The unitary constitution establishes a unitary system of government where a central government does exist. Although units are associated with that government, sovereignty is controlled by the central government.





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