Term Constitutional Law
Code FT-1050
Definition The branch of public law in a nation or state that deals with the fundamental principles by which the government exercises its authority. In some instances, the principles grant specific powers to the government, such as the power to tax and spend for the welfare of the population while in others, they act to place limits on what the government can do, such as prohibiting the arrest of an individual without sufficient cause. Most constitutional legal issues in the U.S. involve the Bill of Rights, which contains the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution including the freedom of speech, the right to a fair trial, and the right to be free from certain types of discrimination. The First Amendment alone contains numerous protections, including freedom of the press, freedom of religion and freedom of association. It also protects the right to free speech, allowing individuals to openly voice their opinions, including those that are critical of the government or unpopular among the majority of Americans. Individual rights, like other constitutional guarantees, are protected by the rule of law and those who are aggrieved can turn to the courts for redress. Some of the most important court cases in U.S. history came about as a result of individual citizens standing up for their constitutional rights. In order for a plaintiff to have standing there must be a live controversy for the federal court to consider. The federal court will not render an advisory opinion about something that may or may not occur in the future. Once a plaintiff demonstrates standing to bring a claim, any number of constitutional provisions can form the basis of the lawsuit. Two of the most common grounds are alleged violations of equal protection and due process.
Created 7/18/00
Changed 3/24/20
Use References
See Also References Civil Liberties Legal Assistance (FT-1025)
Constitutional/Civil Rights Groups (TD-1600.3100-160)
Discrimination Assistance (FT-1800)
Voting Rights Protection (TQ-1800.9500)
External Classification Terms Constitutional Law (NPC I06.02)
Legal Aid-Civil (UW
Legal, Consumer and Public Safety Services (AIRS LE-450)
Legal/Public Safety (CAN LP-450)
Legal Services (NTE I80)
Related Concepts
Facet Service
Bibliographic References Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, 1979, copyright ©, West Publishing Company, St. Paul, MN. All rights reserved.

"Constitutional Law", H.G.org website, https://www.hg.org/constitutional-law.html

"What is Constitutional Law?", FindLaw website, https://hirealawyer.findlaw.com/choosing-the-right-lawyer/constitutional-law.html

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