Last Updated 31 Jan 2023

Salient Features of British Constitution

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There exist many major differences of the U.S. and British constitutions. The United States Constitution and the British Constitution contain dissimilarities for the reasons that are due to their originations, background, context, and intent. These differences are apparent in the society and political setting in which both countries respectively have. The constitutions do contain a few simple principles in common. Among these similarities is the need for a government to respect the individual rights of its citizens. The differences are evident in many of the works that influenced the constitutions before its creation.

The Magna Carta is a document that served as a milestone in the British Constitution. King John of England forcefully signed the Magna Carta in 1215. His barons were angered about how he was ruling the people, so they forced him to sign the charter. The Virginia State Constitution of 1776 was the first state Declaration of Rights ratified by its citizens, unlike the Magna Carta. It had a large effect on the creation of the United States Constitution.

In the Magna Carta, the government was based on the Rule of Law. In the Virginia Constitution, the power derived from the citizens and kept by the citizens. The Magna Carta was the first document in England to limit the power of a single ruler. It gave the people the protection from imprisonment or punishment without proper lawful judgment of peers and by the law of the land. These ideas were later a part of the American Constitution. In that instance, the judgment of peers did not mean trial by jury. Within the Virginia Constitution, trial by jury was an included right of the citizens. The protection of basic rights of nobility was included in the Magna Carta.

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In the Virginia Constitution, all men are created equal with basic rights of life, liberty, property, happiness, and safety. The Magna Carta contained the idea of a government based on agreement or contract between a ruler and the governed was instituted. The King was also prohibited to tax the citizens without their consent. These two ideas were more defined and became a part of the American Constitution by way of the given ability of the people to abolish their government, and prohibit acts without the consent of the citizens.

The English and the Americans developed a Bill of Rights separately. The English Bill of Rights of 1689 was developed as a resolution to the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The Bill was enacted by the new King William and Queen Mary, as a condition of their title. The United States Bill of Rights is an addition to the Constitution. It was ratified in 1791. It was added to calm objections about how the Constitution did not contain a Bill of Rights. The English Bill of Rights, hereafter referred to as the Declaration of Rights, was ratified by Parliament. The citizens of the country ratified the American Bill of Rights.

The Declaration of Rights was created to limit the power of the monarchy and empower the Parliament. The empowering of the legislative body of government was retained by the United States Constitution in order to empower the citizens right of consent. The Bill of Rights prohibited the Federal government from violating individual rights and insures protection of those rights. The Declaration of Rights also made the Parliament the power fullest body in the government. In the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, the people hold the powers of decision, and the three branches of government are equally empowered.

The constitutions themselves have a few differences. The English Constitution did not exist before the creation of the government. The United States Constitution was the basis for creation of the United States. The English Constitution is not a single document but a set of laws, acts of Parliament, and political customs. The United States Constitution is a single document of laws, powers, etc. All the documents that make up the British Constitution were created in times of great conflict, while, the American Constitution was created at a time of relative peace in order to retain peace in the nation.

So stipulated are the differences between the English and American Constitutions. It is apparent that these differences are associated with the differences of the people, times, and reason for creation. Yet, with all the differences between the two, a sense of similarity remains. The citizens need for their rights above everything.

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