Similarities and Differences between the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of California
A constitution is a critical symbol of a nation and its well-being. It is an established set of various principles and precedents that detect how a country or an organization is governed. The concept of the constitution today as a kind of document that detects the governing of the nation emerges from these principles and precedents written down. For the United States, its Constitution embodies the supremacy of this great nation. While the U.S. Constitution acts to govern the nation, there still exist various forms of individual state constitutions that govern each state. Understanding the similarities and differences between the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of California is an essential way of gaining an understanding of how the federal and state governments are able to run smoothly together.
The U.S. Constitution
The U.S. Constitution acts to define the specific structure and organization of the national government. It detects the scope and the particular limitation of its powers, as well as the powers of all those expected to oversee its implementation and the people whom it governs. The U.S. Constitution has been described as the supreme law of the land because it corresponds to the statement A constitution is the fundamental law that defines how a government will legitimately operate (Patterson 28). As a result, all other existing laws in the rest of the country have been measured against it. The Constitution has further been described as Americas greatest contribution to the government.
The California State Constitution
The California State Constitution, just like any other state constitution, demonstrates the extent to which this state has its constitutional law. It offers an explanation and detailed description of the duties, powers, as well as functions of the government of the state. It has been described by many as one of the longest collections of the law in the world. The concept of the states initiatives, undermined faith in elected officials, and the much broader protection of the rights that in the Bill of Rights has contributed to the lengthy nature of the California Constitution. This constitution has undergone several changes since its original drafting, which has resulted in it being rewritten from scratch a number of times. Most of these rewritings have taken place in response to the public. The constitution has served to illustrate the sovereignty of the people of California, which is confirmed in the assertion The recall election of October 7, 2003, reaffirmed Tocquevilles notion of the sovereignty of the people (Janiskee and Masugi 4). In this sense, the California Constitution has given the people an ability to govern themselves to a significant extent.
Similarities between the Two Constitutions
The U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of California are similar in nature in a number of ways. One major similarity that can be detected is that both constitutions exemplify the principles of representative democratic government. This kind of government enhances the power of the people as explained in the following statement, Democracy is a form of government in which the people govern, either directly or through representatives (Patterson 12). In this sense, the form of the sovereignty of both constitutions emanates from the people. Another similarity between the two constitutions is that both encompass the Bill of Rights that ensures the protection of the civil liberties of the people, which is essential in preventing both state and local governments from infringing on the rights of the U.S. citizens. Further, one more similarity between the two constitutions is the fact that both have provisions for the bicameral system of the legislature, according to which both the national and state governments are divided into the House of Representatives and the Senate. The above similarity is asserted in the statement The California legislature is bicameral, like the United States Congress and forty-nine of the fifty state legislatures (Janiskee and Masugi 62). Another essential similarity between the two constitutions is the emphasis on establishing a system of checks and balances through the separation of power among the three branches of government, namely legislative, executive, and judiciary. This emanated from the Virginia plan that included separate judicial and executive branches as well as a two-chamber congress (Patterson 32). This separation has acted to ensure that each branch regulates the other.
Differences between the Two Constitutions
At the same time, various differences also exist between the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of California. One relevant difference that can be detected between the two constitutions is the length. In this regard, the U.S. Constitution is actually brief and highly vague. This has left room for the federal government to mostly undertake the interpretation of the Constitution and claim various forms of implied power in order to meet different public policy issues adequately. The California Constitution, on the other hand, is actually long and highly detailed, and it entails many statutory provisions. These provisions offer an explanation as to what the actions of the state government are. Another difference between the constitutions relates to the executive branch. While the U.S. Constitution establishes a unitary form of executive system with the power being concentrated in the president, the Constitution of the State of California has instead developed a plural executive form of government. This is confirmed by the assertion Whereas the president of the United States is the sole elected head of the federal executive branch, the leadership of the Californias executive branch is divided among a number of elected officials. This shared responsibility is known as a plural executive (Janiskee and Masugi 71). This kind of executive disperses power across a number of elected officials and offices, consequently fragmenting the executive branch. A difference that is similar to the above and that can also be detected between the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of California concerns the amendment process. The U.S. Constitution is extremely difficult to amend. In addition, this process is rendered as being unnecessary. In contrast to this, the Constitution of the State of California provides a relatively easy process of amendment. Another difference that can be found between the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of California relates to the judicial system. The Constitution of the United States espouses a simple judiciary system, consisting of three levels of courts. Further, all federal judges in accordance with the U.S. Constitution are appointed as opposed to being elected. The judges of the Supreme Court, for example, are appointed for life. In contrast to this, the California Constitution allows for more than three forms of courts that may overlap jurisdictions.
The United States is a nation whose sovereignty is highly complicated. This is attributed to the fact that each state making up this great nation has its constitution that guarantees the sovereignty of the people. The existence of national and state constitutions has further complicated this sovereignty. The comparison between the U.S. Constitution and the California Constitution reveals the following similarities: both have the Bill of Rights, the bicameral legislature, the system of checks and balances, and principles of democratic government. Some of the differences include length, the form of the executive, the amendment process, and nature of the judicial system.
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