Why U.S Constitutional Law?

“Why U.S Constitutional Law?” these were the first words that were asked by my students on my first day of teaching. I was expecting this kind of question because being a backbencher (in my educational career) had taught me many things. So, I explained the importance of US constitution with respect to our constitutions. All the doctrines which we have or will have to take from the constitutional struggle of USA. Therefore, this question helped me to give a brief introduction of US constitution.

We have been teaching Constitutional Law of US and Constitutional Law of UK for a long time in our law schools. UK constitution and US constitution are being taught collectively in three years annual degree course. While on the other hand, they are being divided into two courses in five year honors degree. Thus, a basic question arises what is the significance of studying these foreign laws?

Britain, being a mother of all the modern democracies and an advocate of parliamentary system in the world has an unwritten constitution but still they have laws on every aspect of life. While, US constitution being a world’s first written and shortest constitution is an excellent example to understand the US legal, executive and judicial system. Therefore, it is a dire need to study both these systems that are dominating the constitutional history of the world.

Montesquieu’s concept of Separation of Powers is a beauty of American constitution and separation of the three branches of government (i.e. Legislature, Executive and Judiciary) in Pakistan is a dire need of an hour. We have been experiencing the doctrine of judicial restraint in Pakistan for quite some time but Madbury VS Madison case set the principles of Judicial Restraint in US constitutional history. While Dosso case, a landmark case in Pask’s constitutional history, had laid down a doctrine of law of necessity. Therefore, concept of separation of powers by Montesquieu, should be implemented in latter and spirit as seen in US constitution.

There is no denying the fact that U.S and U.K constitutions have their legal importance in their respective countries. But these constitutions are the continuous source of enlightenment due to their constitutional and legal history. We had derived some basic concepts from these constitutions. For instance, we had been following the parliamentary form of government as given in UK constitution. Bicameral legislature, consisting of two house of legislative branch of government, is derived from these constitution.

Pakistan’s constitution states Islam as our state religion and its official name as “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”. American constitutions also have a religious impact as seen in the constitutional document of U.S Article 1 of US constitution states:

“If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law.”[1]

This shows the presence of Christianity in American constitution. While the role of Church in Britain also has a significant value in UK constitutional history. Thus we can say that Pakistan’s constitution not only have religious articles in it but Britain and American constitutions also have same in their respective constitutions.

 To conclude it we can say that the course in our law schools should be a comparative study of these foreign constitutions with our own constitution, Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. This will help our young law grads to acquaint themselves with other constitutions with respect to our constitution as well. Application of foreign doctrines as per our recent developments is necessity of time. We should take necessary measures to reform our legal education system, so that new law grads have analytical and critical knowledge of different laws around the globe.

[1]BOB SEIDENSTICKER, ‘The U.S. Constitution is 100 Percent Secular—or Is It?
(PATHEOS.COM 2013) http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/03/the-u-s-constitution-is-100-percent-secular-or-is-it-2/#tiAE8eTjkHmtcsOB.99A accessed on 13 April 2018

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