Why Do We Need A Constitution? Here Is Why It Is Important | Kidadl


Why Do We Need A Constitution? Here Is Why It Is Important

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India has the longest written constitution in the entire world.

Democracy, fundamental rights, laws, amendments, ratification, legislature, the government, and the supreme court seems like a mass of jagged words, but these combined are the crux of the world we live in today.

San Marino established one of the world's oldest and functioning written constitutions, with its inception in the 1600s. Ever since then, the constitutional concept has evolved through ratification and amendments, starting with the constitutional convention held in the U.S. and the Bill of Rights, followed by alterations in the form of government across the world, and all this, to get to where we are now.

Most of the constitutions are pretty much the same and revolve around the proposed law, constitutional representatives and their principles or powers, and the citizens' rights. With some constitutions dating back centuries ago, it is about time we all understand the functions and importance of the system.

If you're an inquisitive soul, we're sure you will be intrigued by why do cells divide and why do our ears pop.

What is a constitution?

Modern constitutions as we know them began with the constitutional convention in Philadelphia, the U.S., which was held to reform the articles of confederation. To summarize, the constitution is a collective document of principles and rules that govern the legal aspects of national political organizations or any other entities of the countries.

Let's take the example of the Constitution of the United States of America, the first established modern constitution. Initially comprising seven articles, this founding document divides the federal government into three branches, namely, legislative (bicameral Congress), executive (the President), and judicial (the Supreme Court). Articles IV, V, and VI contain federalist concepts that describe the responsibilities of the state government as well as the relation of the state with the federal government to avoid issues in case a rule needs to be altered with an amendment. Over the years, it has gone through 27 amendments out of which the first 10, called the Bill of Rights, specifically safeguards the justice and liberty of every individual along with imposing necessary restrictions over governmental power, including the President. All of this began in 1787 during the first convention, which was attended only by Pennsylvania and Virginia, but eventually, 55 delegates representing 13 states attended the second Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, while the Confederation Congress in New York City, after days of debate, called a vote to transmit the document for ratification by the union of the 13 states. James Madison took detailed notes of this convention, which were sold to the government by his wife in 1837. However, the debate over state-wise representation in Congress was still a debate but was solved by the Connecticut Compromise, which proposed that each state would be proportionally represented in the Lower House (House of Representatives) and equal representation in the Upper House (Senate). The final draft of the constitution was written by the five-member committee of Style of the Convention by September 1787. On September 17, the first person to sign this document was George Washington, however, some states refused approval. That was when Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, along with John Jay, tried to persuade people over ratification by writing a series of 85 essays known as 'The Federalist'. After consideration and compromise, the constitution was ratified in all states, with Rhode Island being the last in May 1790. After this, Madison became known as the 'Father of the Constitution' because of his contribution and the 19 amendments he added to the constitution.

What is the importance of a constitution?

We cannot deny that the world, as well as the governmental system, would be quite different without constitutions. From forming the basic government structure to power distribution check, and offering basic rights to the overall welfare of a nation, are the doing of the protocols implied by the constitutions.

To begin with, the constitution is a collection of rules which govern the society and the political system, and these preset provisions offer great assistance if there is any compromise in the legal, judiciary, government, or any authority sectors, especially in countries prone to a civil war outburst. Its checks and balances will delegate power evenly, and all the countrymen are made aware of the power distribution of each organization be it legal or governmental to guarantee transparency. This method ensures power is not misused and also attempts to build a healthy relationship between the people and the government. The constitution is an apex body that takes precedence over established rules of a nation, which means any law, or the amendment of one, will have to be run through the constitution, and only upon their approval will it be enforced. No one, not even a powerful legal body, can question the integrity or working of the constitution, and failing to abide by its decision will only lead to the downfall of the country's strength and power. Constitutions are crucial because they are designed and aimed to help the countries grow and develop, which means the government must meet certain national goals or objectives. Some of the central objectives the constitution would never let go of include socialism, secularism, democracy, and national integration. A constitution also protects the well-being, dignity, as well as identity of its every individual or distinctive social group by offering a provision of assistance through fundamental rights. Its presence also ensures that all the people are treated equally and can avail of these rights that are theirs by birth. Some of the most basic rights the constitution offers no matter what the circumstances and these are: the right to freedom; right to life; right to equality; right to property; right against exploitation; right to vote; right to education; and right to free participation in the democratic system as well as constitutional remedies. Among all these benefits, one aspect that clarifies the importance of this document is the power transfer during a state of national emergency. The constitution will control the transfer of power during a national emergency, especially if the present ruling parties are capable of providing an immediate solution and giving aid during a crisis. A state of national emergency is declared when a natural or man-made disaster poses a severe threat to the majority of the nation's population and can lead to disastrous outcomes. Civil war outbreaks will also be dealt with by the verdict of the constitution. Therefore, these important features of constitutions explain how they are the driving force behind a country's progress along with its dignified survival.

the constitution is an apex body that takes precedence

Merits and demerits of a constitution?

Every political institution ever created by humans has faltered on its way up and left some nooks and crannies of doubts with opposing debate about their power and whether their absence could better or worsen the current situation. Similarly, although vital for stabilized national functioning, all types of constitutions also have their pros and cons.

First, let's talk about the written constitution. A government that follows this constitution form has cleared any uncertainties about the workings of its country because of its definite, consistent nature. It has a stable structure and will hold its ground in a state of emergency because such constitutions were not formed out of hasty decisions, but after elaborate deliberations based on experience and knowledge. Another benefit is that no matter who's in power, the law abides by the constitution and protects its citizens' rights. One of the major drawbacks of this constitution form, however, is one of its merits, i.e. it's too rigid, and making an amendment may be difficult. It may also be exhaustive, and the ideology, or rules, may not work well with different people from varying age groups. Now, let's move on to the unwritten constitutions. One outstanding feature here is that it's an ever-evolving system to adapt to a country's fluctuating circumstances, making it easier for amendments when required. In addition, this type of constitution also protects the countries traditional values. Among the demerits of an unwritten constitution is vagueness because citizens cannot use complete every government document as a reference to find an answer about the authority and its powers or functions.

What is the need for a constitution in a democracy?

Democratic countries have a government system in which representation is controlled by the citizens of the nation. This means they can either choose to rule directly or through elected representatives, who are also elected by the majority of the people. A Democratic constitution uses principles and law to govern the entire nation, and the society is required to follow the law.

Although a democracy seems like a well-planned nationwide system, following the constitution only has added benefits for society. One of the main reasons why the constitution is helpful is because it keeps a check on the members of the government. Even though the political leaders are a representation of the people, they can still misuse their power, and the constitutional laws safeguard the population against the same. It also prevents stronger groups in politics from using their power against the smaller, less powerful ones. The economic, social, and political welfare and freedom of the people are ensured through the proposed basic rights. Overall, it governs the national decision-making for the betterment and prosperity of the country.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do we need a constitution then why not take a look at why do boats float, or why do people dance?

Written By
Joan Agie

<p>With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.</p>

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