Legal Research

Constitutions

The Federal Constitution and the Constitututions of the 50 states form the framework of our goverment. They define the basic organization and the limits of power of the three branches of government. Additionally, the basic rights of the citizens are set forth in the Constitution.

In the United States Constitution, these fundamental rights are set forth in the first 10 amendments to the Constitution known as The Bill of Rights.

Each state has its own Constitution. In addition to setting forth the structure of state government the California Constitution reiterates many of the same fundamental rights enumerated in the Federal Constitution.

Interrelationship Between Constitution, Statutes and Case Law

Constitutions are only frameworks for the structure of government and our fundamental rights. Many of the rights enumerated in the Constitution are implemented by legislative enactments. For example, the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution sets forth the right against self-incrimination. Article I, section 15 of the California Constitution sets forth an identical right. The California Legislature has codified this right in Evidence Code § 940. Case law such as Miranda v. Arizona interprets and defines the limits of this fundamental right.

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