Constitutional law is fundamental to the practice of law and politics. The United States government functions around the basic elements of constitutional law. Constitutional law is the interpretation and application of the United States Constitution drafted in 1787. In the more than two hundred years that have followed, only seventeen other amendments have been added.
Some Basic Elements of Constitutional Law Include:
- Separation of powers
- Checks and balances
- Judicial Review
- Due process
- Equal protection of law
- Freedom of speech, religion and press
The Constitution contains seven short articles, the first ten amendments being the Bill of Rights which was added to it in 1791. Although a rather brief and simple document, its application is constantly debated. There are other bodies of law at work in this nation. Property law, contract law and tort law all define relations among individuals.
In contrast, constitutional law outlines the structure and function of the government and the relationships of the government to its individual citizens. It characterizes the relative powers of the national and state governments and makes prohibitions of certain actions. Essentially, it defines and limits government powers.
Because of the definitive role the Constitution played in the formation of the United States of America, it is superior to any other body of law at work in the nation. It stands supreme and all other laws are measured by it. If any law conflicts with the Constitution, it is considered null and void. When the Constitution necessitates interpretation, this function is delegated to the courts, especially at the federal level.