Учебное пособие на английском языке Для студентов юридического факультета

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Конституционное право

Constitutional Law

Учебное пособие на английском языке

Для студентов юридического факультета


Институт международного права и экономики имени А.С. Грибоедова



кафедрой иностранных языков

С о с т а в и т е л ь – доц. Е.В. Дольникова

Конституционное право. Constitutional Law: Учебное пособие на английском языке. – М.: ИМПЭ им. А. С. Грибоедова, 2008. – 16 с.

Подготовлено на кафедре иностранных языков.

© Дольникова Е.В., 2008


Constitutional law is the study of foundational or basic law of nation states and other political organizations. Constitutions are the framework* for government* and may limit* or define the authority and procedure of political bodies* to execute new laws and regulations*.

Types of constitutions

Not all nation states* have codified constitutions*, though all such states have a jus commune*, or law of the land*, that may consist of a variety of imperative and consensual rules*. These may include customary law*, conventions*, statutory law*, judge made law* or international rules and norms*.

Functions of constitutions

State and legal structure

Constitutional laws may often be considered second order rulemaking* or rules about making rules to exercise power*. It goverens* the relationships between the judiciary, the legislature and the executive with the bodies under its authority*. One of the key tasks of constitutions within this context is to indicate hierarchies* and relationships of power. For example, in a unitary state, the constitution will vest ultimate authority* in one central administration and legislature, and judiciary, though there is often a delegation of power or authority* to local or municipal authorities. When a constitution establishes a federal state, it will identify* the several levels of government coexisting with exclusive or shared areas of jurisdiction* over lawmaking, application and enforcement.

Human rights

Main articles: Human rights and Human rights law

Human rights or civil liberties* form a crucial part of a country’s constitution and govern the rights of the individual against the state*. Most jurisdictions, like the United States and France, have a single codified constitution, with a Bill of Rights. A recent example is the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union which was intended to be included in the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, that failed to be ratified. Perhaps the most important example is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights under the UN Charter. These are intended to ensure basic political, social and economic standards that a nation state, or intergovernmental body is obliged to* provide its citizens with.


  1. framework – 1) конструкция; 2) структура, система; 3) рамки, пределы

  2. government – 1) управление, руководство; 2) государственная власть;

3) государственное устройство; 4) правительство

  1. to limit – ограничивать, устанавливать срок

  2. to define the authority and procedure of political bodies – определять полномочия и процессуальные нормы политической власти

  3. to execute new laws and regulations – исполнять новые законы и нормы (постановления)

  4. nation state – государство

  5. codified constitutions – кодифицированные конституции

  6. a jus commune=law of the land – общий (основной) закон

  7. imperative and consensual rules – императивные и согласованные нормы

  8. customary law – обычное право (основанное на обычаях)

  9. conventions – 1) обычаи; 2) конвенции; 3) съезды, конвенты

  10. statutory law – статутное право

  11. judge made law – прецедентное право

  12. international rules and norms – международные нормы и нормативные акты

  13. second order rulemaking – второстепенное нормотворчество

  14. to exercise power – осуществлять управление (власть)

  15. to govern – управлять

  16. under the authority – 1) под полномочиями; 2) в сфере компетенции

  17. to indicate hierarchies – определять иерархии

  18. to vest ultimate authority – 1) наделять всей полнотой власти;

2) наделять полными (окончательными) полномочиями

  1. delegation of power and authority – передача власти (делегирование)

  2. to identify – определить

  3. exclusive or several areas of jurisdiction – исключительные или отдельные сферы юрисдикции

  4. civil liberties – гражданские свободы

  5. to govern the rights of the individual against the state – регулировать права личности по отношению к государству

  6. to be obliged (to) – быть обязанным


  1. What is the definition of constitutional law?

  2. What are the main functions of constitutional law?

  3. Which is a crucial part of the country’s constitution?


The United Sates Constitution is the supreme law* of the United States of America. It provides the framework* for the organization of the United States Government. The document outlines the three main branches of the government. The legislative branch is embodied* in the bicameral* Congress. The executive branch is headed by the President. The judicial branch is headed by the nine-member Supreme Court. Besides providing for the organization of these branches, the Constitution carefully outlines which powers each branch may exercise. It also reserves numerous rights for the individual states, and thus establishes the United States’ federal system of government.

The United States Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and later ratified by conventions in each state in the name of ‘the People’; it has since been amended twenty-seven times, the first ten amendments* being known as the Bill of Rights. The Constitution has a central place in United States law and political culture. The U.S.Constitution is the oldest federal constitution of any existing nation. The handwritten, or ‘engrossed’*, original document is on display at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. The United States Constitution has 4,543 words, including the signatures*.


  1. supreme law – основной закон

  2. to provide the framework – обеспечивать рамки

  3. to embody – воплощать

  4. bicameral – двухпалатный

  5. to engross – писать крупными буквами; красиво и четко переписывать документ, облекая его в юридическую форму

  6. amendment – поправка

  7. signature – подпись


  1. What does the US Constitution provide?

  2. What does it outline?

  3. What is the significance of the US Constitution?


The Constitution of the United States is the central instrument of American government and the supreme law of the land. For 200 years, it has guided the evolution of governmental institutions and has provided the basis for political stability, individual freedom, economic growth and social progress.

The American Constitution is the world’s oldest written constitution in force, one that has served as the model for a number of other constitutions around the world. The Constitution owes its staying power to its simplicity and flexibility*. Originally designed to provide a framework for governing four million people in 13 very different colonies along the Atlantic coast, its basic provisions were so soundly conceived that, with only 26 amendments, it now serves the needs of more than 240 million people in 50 even more diverse states.

The Constitution and the federal government thus stand at the peak of a govermental pyramid which includes local and state jurisdictions. In the U.S.system, each level of government has a large degree of autonomy* with certain powers reserved particularly to itself. Disputes between different jurisdictions are resolved by the courts. However, there are questions involving the national interest which require the cooperation of all levels of government simultaneously, and the Constitution makes provision for this as well. American public schools are largely administered by local jurisdictions, adhering to* statewide standards. But the federal government also aids the schools, since literacy and educational attainment is a matter of vital national interest, and it enforces uniform standards* designed to further equal educational opportunity. In other areas, such as housing, health and welfare, there is a similar partnership between the various levels of government.

No product of human society is perfect. Despite its many amendments, the Constitution of the United States probably still contains flaws which will become evident in future periods of stress. But two centuries of growth and unrivaled prosperity have proven the foresight of the 55 men who worked through the summer of 1787 to lay the foundation of American government.


  1. to owe to its simplicity and flexibility – быть обязанным ее простоте и гибкости

  2. a large degree of autonomy – большой уровень автономии

  3. to adhere to – 1) придерживаться, соблюдать; 2) присоединяться

  4. educational attainment – достижение в области образования

  5. to enforce uniform standards – применять единые стандарты

  6. unrivaled prosperity – непревзойденное благополучие (процветание)

  7. flaw – дефект; порок


  1. Which is the role of the US Constitution?

  2. What is the reason of the longterm power of the US Constitution?

  3. What does the Constitution make provision for?

  4. Does the US Constitution have any particular flaws?


The governmental systems in the United States – federal, state, county, and local – are quite easy to understand. They are quite easy to understand, that is, if you grew up with them and studied them in school. One foreign expert complained, for example, that the complexity* of just the cities’ political and governmental structure is ‘almost unbelievable’. The ‘real Chicago’, he explained, ‘spreads over 2 states, 6 counties*, 10 towns, 30 cities, 49 townships, and 110 villages. Overlaid upon this complex pattern are 235 tax districts and more than 400 school districts’.

There are, however, several basic principles which are found at all levels of American government. One of these is the ‘one person, one vote’ principle which says that legislators* are elected from geographical districts directly by the voters*. Under this principle, all election districts must have about the same number of residents*.

Another fundamental principle of American government is that because of the system of checks and balances*, compromise in politics is a matter of necessity, not choice. For example, the House of Representatives controls spending and finance, so the President must have its agreement for his proposals* and programs. He cannot declare war, either the approval of Congress. In foreign affairs, he is also strongly limited. Any treaty must first be approved by the Senate. If there is no approval, there’s no treaty. The rule is ‘the President proposes*, but Congress disposes’. What a President wants to do, therefore, is often a different thing from what a President is able to do.


  1. legislator – законодатель, член законодательного органа

  2. county – 1) графство (в Великобритании); 2) округ (в США)

  3. to vote – 1) голос; 2) право голоса; 3) число голосов; 4) вотум; решение

5) голосование; 6) избирательный бюллетень

voter – 1) избиратель; лицо, имеющее право голоса; 2) голосующий, участник голосования

4. resident – постоянный житель; резидент

5. to propose – предлагать

proposal – 1) предложение; представление, рекомендация; 2) законодательное предложение, законопроект

6. complexity – сложность

7. checks and balances – система сдержек и противовесов


  1. Which are the basic principles of American Government?

  2. What is the role of Congress?


Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government, is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives. There are 100 Senators, two from each state. One third of the Senators are elected every two years for six-year term of office. The Senators represent all of the people in a state and their interests.

The House has 435 members. They are elected every two years for two-year terms. They represent the population of ‘congressional districts*’ into which each state is divided. The number of Representatives from each state is based upon* its population. For instance, California, the state with the largest population, has 52 Representatives, while Delaware has only one.

Almost all elections in the United States follow the ‘winner-takes-all’ principle: the candidate who wins the largest number of votes in a Congressional district is the winner.

Congress makes all laws, and each house of Congress has the power to introduce legislation*. Each can also vote against legislation passed* by the other. Because legislation only becomes law if both houses agree, compromise between them is necessary. Congress decides upon taxes* and how money is spent. In addition, it regulates commerce* among the states and with foreign countries. It also sets rules for the naturalization of foreign citizens*.


  1. congressional districts – округа конгресса

  2. to be based on (upon) – основываться на

  3. to introduce legislation – внести законопроект

  4. to pass a legislation – принять закон

  5. to regulate commerce – регулировать торговлю (коммерческую деятельность)

  6. rules for naturalization of foreign citizens – правила натурализации иностранных граждан

  7. to decide upon taxes – принимать решения о налогах


  1. Which two parts does the Congress consist of?

  2. How are the members of the Congress elected?

  3. Whom do Congress members represent?


Term of office:

Elected by the people, through the electoral college, to a four-year term; limited to two terms.


$200,000 plus $50,000 allowance for expenses, and up to $100,000 tax-free for travel and official entertainment.


January 20, following the November general election.


Native-born American citizen, at least 35 years old and at least 14 years a resident of the United States.

Chief duty:

To protect the Constitution and enforce the laws made by the Congress.

Other powers:

To recommend legislation to the Congress;

to call special sessions of the Congress;

to deliver messages to the Congress;

to veto bills;

to appoint federal judges;

to appoint heads of federal departments and agen cies and other principal federal officials;

to appoint representatives to foreign countries;

to carry on official business with foreign nations;

to exercise the function of commander-in-chief of the armed forces;

to grant pardons for offenses against the United States.


  1. electoral college – коллегия выборщиков

  2. allowance – содержание; вознаграждение

  3. to enforce the laws – 1) применять законы; 2) обеспечить применение законов

  4. to grant pardons – удовлетворить прошения о помиловании


  1. When are general elections on the US held?

  2. What is the chief duty of the US President?

  3. Which other powers does the US President have?


The Constitution requires the president to be a native-born* American citizen at 35 years of age. Candidates for the presidency are chosen by political parties several months before the presidential election, which is held every four years (in years divisible evently by four) on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

The method of electing the president is peculiar* to the American system. Although the names of the candidates appear on the ballots*, technically the people of each state do not vote directly for the president (and vice president). Instead, they select a slate of presidential electors, equal to the number of senators and representatives each state has in Congress. The candidate with the highest number of votes in each state wins all the electoral votes of that state.

The electors* of all 50 states and the District of Columbia – a total of 538 persons – compose what is known as the Electoral College. Under the terms of the Constitution, the College never meets as a body*. Instead, the electors gather in the state capitals shortly after the election and cast their votes for the candidate with the largest number of popular votes in their respective states. To be successful, a candidate for the presidency must receive 270 votes. The Constitution stipulates* that if no candidate has a majority, the decision shall be made by the House of Representatives with all members from a state voting as a unit. In this event, each state and the District of Columbia would be alloted* one vote only.

The presidential term of four years begins on January 20 (it was changed from March by the 20th Amendment, ratified in 1933) following a November election. The president starts his or her official duties with an inauguration ceremony, traditionally held on the steps of the U.S.Capitol, where Congress meets. The president publicly takes an oath of office, which is traditionally administered by the chief justice of the United States. The words are prescribed in Article II of the Constitution.

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The oath-taking ceremony* is usually followed by an inaugural address in which the new president outlines the policies and plans of his or her administration.


  1. peculiar – особенный, странный

  2. ballots – избирательные бюллетени; выборы

  3. a body – орган; коллегия

  4. elector – избиратель; выборщик; член коллегии выборщиков

  5. to stipulate – обусловливать; оговаривать

  6. to allot (to be allotted) – отводить; выделять; назначать

  7. oath-taking ceremony – церемония принятия присяги


  1. Who are the candidates for presidency chosen by?

  2. Do the people of the states directly vote for the president?

  3. Which candidate wins the electoral votes of the state?

  4. Who composes the electoral college?

  5. What is the procedure in case no candidate wins?

  6. How does the president start his or her official duties?


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