How Do Constitutions and Bylaws Differ?


Quick Answer

In government, constitutions establish macroscopic frameworks regarding principles of government or organizational operation, while bylaws establish rules and procedures for carrying out proper functions. While constitutions establish norms and regulate structure and behavior on general and larger level, bylaws oversee daily activities and operate on a microscopic level, helping governments and companies operate legally and effectively. Constitutions generally require approval of two-thirds of each entity or party, while bylaws become effective with majority approval.

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Full Answer

As with most legal documents, constitutions and bylaws ordinarily exist in writing. Constitutions prove particularly valuable for new organizations, and for familiarizing new members with the normal processes and procedures of their groups. Constitutions help entities develop long term goals and let companies establish a clear, defined goal. Constitutions contain several fundamental components: the organization's name, affiliation with local or national groups, a purpose or goal, membership requirements, lists of officers and advisers, meeting schedules, a quorum, procedure for referendums and recalls, amendment process and ratification.

While constitutions create a basic outline for organizational operation, bylaws fill in the details, elaborating on the articles within constitutions. They provide detailed information concerning membership, fees, officer duties, executive boards, committees, meeting agendas, regulatory authority and amendment procedures, along with any other information necessary for ensuring smooth, proper organizational operation.

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