Constitutional Law Glossary or Terms


Constitution: A written document that establishes the fundamental principles and framework of a government, outlining the powers and limitations of its branches, and protecting the rights of individuals.Amendment: A change or addition to the Constitution. Amendments typically require a specific procedure, such as approval by a supermajority of the legislature or ratification by the states.Bill of Rights: The first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, which protect individual rights and liberties, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the right to a fair trial.Judicial Review: The power of courts to review and declare laws or government actions unconstitutional. This power is often attributed to the judiciary to ensure the constitutionality of legislation.Separation of Powers: The division of governmental powers among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches to prevent the concentration of power in a single authority. Each branch has its own functions and checks and balances on the other branches.Federalism: The system of government in which power is divided and shared between a central government and state governments. It delineates the authority and responsibilities of each level of government.Due Process: The principle that guarantees fair treatment and protection of an individual’s rights when they are involved in legal proceedings. It encompasses procedural rights, such as notice and a hearing, as well as substantive rights.Equal Protection: The principle that requires the government to treat all individuals similarly and prohibits discrimination based on certain characteristics, such as race, gender, or national origin.Freedom of Speech: The constitutional right to express opinions, ideas, and beliefs without government interference. It is a fundamental right protected under the First Amendment.Freedom of Religion: The constitutional right to exercise one’s religion freely, without government interference. It encompasses the freedom to worship, the freedom to hold religious beliefs, and the freedom from religious establishment by the government.Privacy: The right to be free from unwarranted government intrusion into personal matters, activities, and decisions. While not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, the Supreme Court has recognized privacy as a fundamental right.Supremacy Clause: A provision in the U.S. Constitution (Article VI) that establishes the Constitution, federal laws, and treaties as the supreme law of the land, overriding conflicting state laws.Commerce Clause: A provision in the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8) that grants Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce. It has been interpreted broadly to include various economic activities and transactions.Enumerated Powers: The powers specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution. These powers are listed in Article I, Section 8, and include the power to tax, regulate commerce, and declare war.Reserved Powers: The powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution and not prohibited to the states. These powers are reserved for the states or the people, as outlined in the Tenth Amendment.This glossary provides a starting point for understanding constitutional law terms, but there are many more concepts and principles within this field of study.

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