eli5 Constitutional review and amendments


Guys, what does the term “constitutional review” actually mean? And what’s the connection between constitutional review and constitutional amendments?

In: 2

Constitutional review is when a court determines whether a law, ruling, etc. is consistent with the constitution.

A constitutional amendment is a change to the constitution.

If constitutional review determines that a law is not consistent with the constitution, the constitution would have to be amended in order to keep that law in place.

Two very different things.

Constitutional review (similar to judicial review) is the power of the Supreme Court to review laws or other acts of government to ensure they are in line with the Constitution. Since the Constitution is the highest law of the land and trumps everything else, if a law conflicts with the Constitution, then they _law_ is invalidated.

Constitutional amendments are how we change the Constitution itself. If some part of the Constitution needs to be changed, repealed or updated we have a very structured process to have that change made. Once the process is complete, this change becomes part of the Constitution and is treated like any other part of the Constitution (in terms of legal supremecy).

“Constitutional review” is the evaluation of laws to make sure that they don’t contradict the constitution, which is the highest law in the state/country that has it. So, as an easy (silly) example, if the Constitution says “freedom of speech” and a law gets passed that says “If you say the word ‘orange’ you go to jail,” that law would be found *unconstitutional* upon review. That’s one of the major jobs of the high court system (like the Supreme Court) in many countries.

Constitutional amendments are actual *changes* to the Constitution, which will then become the new highest law. And they’re usually done by the legislature or by the people as a whole – since these become part of the Constitution, they are usually much harder to pass than normal laws, and require a sizable vote. So to use our silly example, a constitutional amendment could be passed saying “Freedom of speech, *except* for the word ‘orange.'” And then a law that said “Say orange, go to jail” would hold up to constitutional review.