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What is constitutional law?

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Quick Answer

Constitutional law deals with the interpretation and implementation of the Constitution. It addresses the fundamental relationships within society, among the states, between the states and the federal government, the three branches of government (executive, legislative, judicial) and individual rights.

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Constitutional law serves as the entire framework of constitutional provisions and principles and the court decisions that interpret and develop them. Once a higher court has interpreted a constitutional provision in a certain way, it becomes a binding precedent in all future analogous cases for that court and lower courts in its jurisdiction (unless and until that decision is overruled) under the doctrine of stare decisis. The area of judicial review is an important subject within Constitutional Law, and the Supreme Court plays a crucial role in interpreting the Constitution. As a result, Supreme Court decisions are a very significant part of constitutional law. The topic of constitutional law also addresses state constitutions, but, without further qualification, the term is most often used to refer to the Federal Constitution, explains Cornell University. However, by way of the Supremacy Clause, the Federal Constitution prevents not only the federal government, but also state and local governments from interfering with the Constitution. Many provisions in the Constitution specifically protect individuals' rights from violation by the state and federal governments.

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