The Constitution of Jurlandia commences with the following Preamble:
We, the people of Jurlandia, in order to secure the blessings of life, liberty, community, and the pursuit of happiness for ourselves and our posterity, hereby ordain and establish this Constitution of the Republic of Jurlandia
The idea that a constitution is intended to "secure the blessings of life and liberty" is not revolutionary.
What of the blessings of "community"? On reflection, we see that "self and society" coevolve, and the health of each depends on the health of the other. Aristotle said that happiness, the greatest yearning, is impossible without justice, and justice cannot exist in a vacuum: It requires building a just society, a "community" devoted to giving and receiving equality of opportunity, equality before the law, isonomia. This Constitution recognizes from the onset that arranging the relationships between individuals and their "circles of association" — both required and voluntary — is an essential component of the "social compact" which a Constitution grows out of, reflects, advances.
This Preamble does not guarantee happiness. It seeks merely — through the Constitution — to "secure the blessing … of the pursuit of happiness." The blessing is that we may each seek happiness according to our own lights, limited only by legitimate rights and expectations of others and of society at large. What are those rights and expectations? Well, they compose a vast tapestry of competing and dovetailing values, rights, opportunities, responsibilities, etc., ordained as law — law contained either in this Constitution itself (highest law), or "recognized" under the Constitution (properly ratified or otherwise accepted international law) or emanating from the Legislative Branch (primary legislation) or from the Executive Branch (seconday legislation and administration) or from the Judicial Branch, whose "law-making" derives from its authoritative interpretations of laws of all these kinds when presented with specific disputes that require judicial resolution. Of course, all these "sources of law" are examined elsewhere. For example, see Rule of Law.
Ordain and Establish
According to this Preamble, the people through their Constitution "ordain and establish" the Republic of Jurlandia. The meaning of "republic" is defined in every particular of the Constitution, from first to last.
To offer one significant example, one that might arise from reading this Preamble (as it has arisen in many courtries):
The Preamble and Constitution do not guarantee "life" as such. The Constitution does not prohibit or require the death penalty, although it empowers the Parliament to do either (and if the Parliament does either, then the Judicial Branch cannot upset that legislation on constitutional grounds based on this Preamble's supposed "guarantee of life" or other provisions that seem to "constitutionalize" the death penalty.) Actually, this is a huge subject; countries whose constitutions are unlcear on exactly what the legislature or the judiciary can do in this regard invite eternal constitutional squabbles. Some come out one way, others come out another, but always there are large numbers of people who assert that the "winning side" is acting unconstitutionally. The Constitution of Jurlandia does not invite such constitutional crises.
Thus, in ordaining and establishing the Republic of Jurlandia, its Constitution addresses many issues within a hierarchy of considerations.High among its goals is to guarantee that no person shall be deprived of life and liberty (etc.) without due process of law.
It is worth examining exactly what this Constitution does here, While Chapter I has much to say on this subject, and while indeed all chapters speak from various persectives on it, the specific issue is addressed in Chapter V:
1. The Parliament shall not make or allow, nor shall the President implement or enforce, nor shall any person obey or uphold, any legislation, regulation, ordinance, or rule that deprives any person of life, liberty, property, or any other rights, privileges, or immunities, without due process of law.
(1) By "due process of law" this Constitution means a fundamentally fair and reasonable command or procedure, under the particular circumstances, as that concept has evolved in advanced constitutional democracies. The people of Jurlandia hereby instruct the Supreme Court that it shall interpret and embrace all of Jurlandia's law within a firmament of rationality and justice according to the fundamental precepts of advanced constitutional democracies.
(2) By "fundamentally fair" and "reasonable" and similar terms, this Constitution instructs that the Supreme Court shall find, refine, and evolve standards that are based on wisdoms developed out of historical experience, including the experiences of countries that have sought to give these terms an elevated meaning over centuries, so that these terms — applied and refined on a case-by-case basis in Jurlandia — shall, in due course, provide ascertainable standards of fair and rational conduct for all legislative, executive, and judicial officers.
(3) This Constitution instructs the Supreme Court that, in applying standards like due process of law and equal protection of the law, the Court will develop a jurisprudence of "case law" that will refine and clarify the meanings of all the terms of this Constitution, thereby providing genuine and enforceable guidance to lower courts and all public officials regarding the standards of conduct required of them under this Constitution.
2. Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as contravening this Constitution when it results from the use of force that is no more than reasonably necessary in defense of a person from unlawful violence, or when it results from the application of proper procedures, pursuant to legislation, covering:
(1) A request by a person who would otherwise be kept alive by artificial means, to terminate his or her life; or
(2) A request by a pregnant woman to terminate her pregnancy.
3. With reference to paragraph 2, subparagraphs 1 and 2, the people intend to avoid constitutional confusion by specifying that, if the Parliament legislates on these specific subjects, then the Supreme Court shall not interpose a constitutional prohibition on such legislation; to this extent, and in this way only, the due process of law requirement with respect to the "right to life" may be modified by legislation.
Arguably there is no more powerful or beautiful phrase in the English language than due process of law. It does not translate well into other languages. It obtains its meaning from literally thousands of specific cases in which somebody alleged deprivation of life or liberty or property or some other legal right, etc., without the benefit of due process of law — essentially, fundamental rationality and fairness.
In a sense, this website is dedicated — above all — to illuminating how due process of law can be ordained and established, worldwide.
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