Constitutional law is a set of norms that establishes the fundamental principles of the State. Thus, it defines the legal or political system, regulates the institutions of the State and guarantees a series of rights for individuals through the Constitution.
Constitutional law refers to norms that respond to evaluative approaches, such as the recognition of the set of fundamental rights for citizens and the limitation, division and organization of power. Thus, the constitutions establish the division of judicial, executive and legislative power.
Constitutional norms regulate the political institutions of the State, such as parliament, government, courts, the crown, etc. Of these it defines its organization, the distribution of power in the institutions and the territorial configuration of the State (unitary, regional or federal).
The source of constitutional law and its object of interpretation and application is the Constitution. This is the primary and fundamental rule of the States.
The Constitution is within the hierarchy of the norms in the first position, that is to say, that no other norm, even if it is international, can violate the principles established in the Constitution. In short, all other norms must be in conformity and will derive from the Constitution, which is the supreme norm.
Characteristics of constitutional law
The main characteristics of this right are:
- It is a right from which rules of public law emanate.
- It limits the actions of the State through the division of the three powers.
- It endows individuals with fundamental rights, and establishes basic guarantees for citizens.
- The forms of elaboration and modification of the constitutional law norms are more rigid than those corresponding to the rest of the norms.
- Constitutional law establishes a control of constitutionality over the rest of the norms. This serves so that none of them is in contradiction with what is established in the Constitution.
- Constitutional law has a specific court that is in charge of matters that violate the Constitution and its interpretations. This court is the Constitutional Court.
- The Constitution, the only norm of constitutional law, is approved through a specific and unique mechanism: the constituent process.
- There is a comparative constitutional law and it is the one that studies the constitutions of different states, examining their differences.
- Constitutional law is made up of political law, since it regulates the basic structure of the State and establishes the fundamental norms of its organization.
- In countries where there is a federal structure, constitutional rights are usually divided into national, provincial and municipal law.
Principles of constitutional law
The principles that govern constitutional law are:
- Division of powers: The constitutions establish this division in order to limit the power of the State.
- Preserve the rule of law: Every action carried out by the public power must be supported by a rule so that the citizen can know the reason for its sanction or non-compliance. Provides legal security to a State.
- Preserve the rights of citizens: The fundamental rights included in the constitutions are inalienable and intrinsic to the human being. For example, right to life or right to liberty.
- National sovereignty: This principle means that the decision-making power rests with the people, and it will be the citizens who, through the stipulated mechanisms, usually representative democracy, choose their own public powers and their organization.