What are Constitutional Rights

By Diya

Edited by Madeleine and Audrey

A constitution is one of the most crucial documents for a nation. It highlights the responsibilities and limits of the different branches of government. More importantly, this document protects inhabitants of a country, secures their rights, and is considered a supreme law that the nation strictly runs by. Currently, those elected into positions of power ensure that the rights of their people are intact. However, the wrong person or group of people with this power can cause chaos in their nation. Constitutional rights ensure justice and equality, so that no minority or group suffer from mistreatment in a democracy.  These rights provide voices to individuals or societies, instead of complete government dictatorship. “Constitutional Rights” may have many names -- such as the Bill of Rights or Human Rights -- but they serve the same purpose of order and equity. Rights are what every person is entitled to, no matter their status, race, sexual orientation, religion, or beliefs.

Who do the constitutional rights protect?

Constitutional rights apply to a person or persons, including immigrants and non-citizens. Some countries may have constitutional rights specifically regarding immigrants or citizens leaving the country. The constitution includes immigration policies, but almost all countries protect non-citizens under constitutional rights with a few exceptions (such as North Korea).

While Constitutional Rights should apply to everyone...

The rights of minorities everywhere are being constantly challenged by government officials who do not respect and acknowledge their hardships. The United States serves as a great example of embedded systematic racism and prejudice against minorities. When the political society favors the privileged, chaos can erupt within a country. Through censorship, the abuse of Ughyr Muslims in China and many other prevalent world issues are unnoticed to the general population. Each of these issues is a direct violation of a country's constitutional rights, especially in a democracy, in which freedom of assembly, equal treatment, habeas corpus, and freedom of press should be exercised. Because of these violations, minorities are oppressed while the government continues to favor the privileged: people with racial, class, ethic, able-bodied and sexual orientation privileges.

Laws vs Constitutional Rights 

All laws made must conform to a constitution to avoid a violation of human rights. However, Laws are not necessarily a part of the constitution itself. Federal constitution includes general constitution rights, and permits states to individually add on to these rights without expelling or ignoring any. 

By establishing constitutional rights, the government ensures the protection and liberty of the general population. The government must abide by these rights for every act or law passed. However, ethnic and LGBTQ+ minorities continue to face mistreatment in several countries. Yet, it is crucial to know one's own rights and try to act upon it when one or another’s freedom or rights are challenged.

* This piece narrated Constitutional Rights from a Canadian and American perspective, focusing on a Constitutional Democracy with the power to the citizens. *

Sources:

https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/just/05.html- What are constitutional rights

https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/the-constitution/ - Why a constitution

https://home.ubalt.edu/shapiro/rights_course/Chapter3text.htm - Bill of rights and amendments

https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/constitutional-law - Constitutional Law

https://www.usa.gov/branches-of-government- Legislative, Executive, and Judicial 

https://hirealawyer.findlaw.com/choosing-the-right-lawyer/constitutional-law.html Terms and clarification

https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/canadian-charter-of-rights-and-freedoms - Canadian Charter of rights.

https://www.quora.com/Is-there-any-punishment-for-violating-the-US-Constitution - reference

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/what-constitutional-rights-do-undocumented-immigrants-have 

https://www.archives.gov/files/legislative/resources/education/veto/background.pdf 

https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/c-12.3/FullText.html

Cover Image:

https://www.liberties.eu/en/campaigns/human-rights-under-corona-guide/366 

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