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A Supreme Law Constitution Essay

1166 words - 5 pages

A constitution is “the system or body of fundamental principles under which a nation is constituted or governed; it sets up the framework for the Government itself.” Unlike most other nations, New Zealand does not have a singular constitutional document that outlines principles comprehensively. On the contrary our constitution is made up of many different elements, such as the New Zealand Bill of Rights 1990, the Constitution Act 1986, Constitutional Conventions and parliaments standing orders, as well as a number of further documents and constitutional principles. These elements collectively effectuate the ideas and principles integral to our countries successful governance. The fact that our constitution is not codified in a singular supreme written document is unlike other nations. The most distinctive part of New Zealand’s constitution, when compared to other nations, is that our constitution is not a supreme form of law. The idea of a supreme law constitution is that when ordinary law conflicts with constitutional law it can be declared void by the courts. Codifying all individual constitutional documents and conventions into a supreme law constitutional, would result in a greater check on legislative power. This would result as the Judiciary could strike down legislation if it did not align with the constitutional principles.

The role of the Judiciary is to interpret the law that the Legislative branch of government makes. It is through this role that they are able to check the legislative branch of government. Although the Judiciary’s power in minimising their activities is generally restricted. While the judiciary has to adhere to the law that the legislative branch makes, judges are able to interpret statues narrowly to avoid injustice. This ability is a convention that has developed over time but can also be found in the law. The New Zealand Bill of Rights 1990 instructs the courts that, “Wherever an enactment can be given a meaning that is consistent with the rights and freedoms contained in this Bill of Rights, that meaning shall be preferred to any other meaning.” This power to interpret statutes allows judges to define their own meaning when a statute is unclear or complex. By being able to perform this function, the Judiciary possesses a certain amount of power to check the legislative branch of government. This results as the law is applied according to the judiciary’s interpretation of it, rather than employing what the legislative branch envisaged in their enactment of the statute. By interpreting statutes, the Judiciary have in the past been able to limit legislative power. However this is essentially centred on whether they legislative is willing to allow these actions. Therefore the judiciary’s ability to check legislative power is largely limited, as they have to stay with in the confines of the words of the statute. Which means that generally only small specific changes can be made. Furthermore if the judiciary’s...

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