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Gun Control
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Americans are faced with an ever-growing problem of violence. Our streets have become a battleground where the elderly are beaten for their social security checks, where terrified women are viciously attacked and raped, where teen-age gangsters shoot it out for a patch of turf to sell their illegal drugs, and where innocent children are caught daily in the crossfire of drive-by shootings. We cannot ignore the damage that these criminals are doing to our society, and we must take actions to stop these horrors. However, the effort by some misguided individuals to eliminate the legal ownership of firearms does not...
people who respect the law itself, the people who would only use firearms for legal purposes anyway. And when we give people the right to defend themselves, we find that criminals start looking for other victims out of fear that they will become the victims themselves. We must work to reduce crime in America, but we should look at the problem realistically, and develop plans that would be effective. It is obvious that gun control laws are neither realistic, nor effective in reducing crime. Therefore, we must direct our efforts toward controlling crime, not controlling legal ownership of firearms.
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PUBLIC LAW 2002/2003: COURSEWORK 1. ...PUBLIC LAW 2002/2003: COURSEWORK 1. Unlike the U.S.A. and Germany, the United Kingdom of Great Britain has no special legally sanctioned document, from which it derives the authority of the main organs of government, such as Parliament. However, it must be noted that the U.K. possesses a 'constitution' defined in the wider context. The vacuum left by an unwritten constitution is filled by the "twin foundations" of Parliamentary supremacy and the rule of law, ""¦the very keystone of the law of the constitution". Hence, whilst it is ""¦emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is" in countries such as the U.S.A., Parliament in the U.K can legislate on any topic, cannot be bound by its predecessors and no body may challenge the validity the of its Acts. Furthermore, the necessary democratic condition for the rule of law in modern British society and government is the "..threefold division of labour, between a legislator , an administrative official, and an independent judge" otherwise there would be "no liberty". Thus, the following essay will seek to analyse The Human Rights Act 1998 and Devolution, two of the Blair government's constitutional reforms. The extent and impact of change will be assessed in relation to the rule of law and the degree to which the doctrine of Parliamentary supremacy, if at all, has been reconciled. The inclination, that "we have no need of a Bill of Rights because we have freedom" , betrays the lack of a "systematic human rights regime" in the U.K. A fifty year failure in incorporating the ECHR into domestic law provided a long road Strasbourg to inforce individual freedoms, coupled with a poor record before it's court, as illustrated by Golder and the Sunday Times. The adoption of measures, such as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms 1982 and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, highlighted the progression of better protection of fundamental rights in other countries with common law traditions. Cases such as Brind further revealed a serious gap in the effective legal protection of human rights in the U.K. Only incorporation of such rights would "..reduce the helplessness of the law in the face of the legislative sovereignty of Parliament which makes it difficult for the legal system to accommodate the concept of fundamental and inviolable human rights". The originality of the HRA 1998 consisted of the following key elements. All persons applying legislation now observed new interpretive duties, regardless of it's date, or type. Subordinate legislation can be disapplied if read incompatibly with Convention rights, unless it's Parent Act prevented removal of the incompatibility. The same circumstances involving Primary legislation meant a superior court could make a 'declaration of incompatibility', although the legislation continues in full force. The effect of the declaration enables the government, through 'fast track' delegated legislation, to take remedial action, resulting in the necessary amendment to the primary legislation to remove the incompatibility. All public authorities will be acting unlawfully if they act incompatibly with Convention rights, with the risk of proceedings being brought against them ; the victim relying on Convention rights as defence through application for judicial review of the public authority's decision. In the light of relevant Strasbourg decisions and jurisprudence , a remedy of 'just satisfaction' is to be provided. Lastly, a minister of the Crown in charge of a government bill must issue a statement to parliament in regards to its compatibility with the convention, this allows efficient and fair proceedings of the bill. Thus, the HRA 1998 shares similarities with the CCRF 1982 and NZBRA 1990. Like the former, it empowers the courts with interpretive duties and ensures the administrative activities of public authorities comply with the rights incorporated. Also, in justifying any interference with convention rights, the "principle of proportionality" is applied. As with the latter measure, HRA 1998 provides the notion of ministerial statement of compatibility on bill introduction, and preference of convention rights interpretation. However, HRA 1998 differs in its application to the common law and between private parties, whilst not limiting court powers in interpreting statutes compatibly with convention rights. The Act can potentially have a "horizontal effect", and extend protection beyond the state and it's agents to 'private government'. Also, the absence of the doctrine of 'implied repeal' increases the effectiveness of the Act in securing compatibility between future legislation and convention rights, with courts requiring express provision in a latter statute before deciding a convention right has been abridged. Lord Steyn declared, "[i]t is crystal clear that the carefully and subtly drafted Human Rights Act preserves the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty". Hence, despite the incompatibility of a statute, it continues to be enforceable. Unlike the U.S.A. the U.K. has no constitutional court with the power to strike down Acts of Parliament. Moreover, excluded from the definition of 'public authority', Parliament may legislate incompatibly if it chooses to do so. Yet, Parliament still bears "a heavy responsibility to ensure that it does not do so lightly, or for inadequate reasons, or inadvertently", and for this reason is guaranteed an informed consent and a set of standards to scrutinize all legislation. Therefore, the Act provides a high degree of judicial control , which has substantially altered the effects of legislation in respect to human rights. It has been noted that early predictions concerning the impact of the HRA 1998 have been exaggerated. Offen provides an early example of how courts adopted a creative approach to interpretation of legislation to avoid a declaration of incompatibility. The first declarations of incompatibility were made within a year of the Act coming into force. Despite this, it was indicated that the courts would defer to "the decisions of a representative legislative"¦within the discretionary area of judgement accorded to those bodies". Consequently, the convention is principally an instrument promoting practices of representative government. Thus, there remains a judicial restraint in the application of convention rights, with an emphasis that individuals have responsibilities as well as rights, with the result that a "balance is to be struck between the rights of the individual and the needs of society". Perhaps this highlights the creative tension between the three branches of government, enhanced further by the manifest conflict between s.3 and s.4 of the Act. Described as the "..most radical constitutional change this country has seen since the Great Reform Act of 1832" , the Labour government's commitment to secure devolution and renew efforts to establish peace caused separate legislation for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by Westminster. Historical analysis highlights constitutional diversity and economic/political unity in the U.K. The pressures for change were influenced by unsuccessful attempts in the 1970's to establish devolved governments, through a indecisive Royal commission on the constitution, and the Scotland Act 1978 and Wales Act 1978. The Conservative Party opposition 1979-1997 to all proposals for devolution within the U.K., added to the support of the Scottish Constitutional Convention's proposed improvement upon the Scotland Act 1978. It is a sign of the asymmetric structure of the U.K. that the similarities between the three Acts seem less than the differences. In terms of representative bodies and their powers, the Scottish Parliament may make laws for Scotland on dissolved matters, i.e. education, but are subject to a list of reserved and exempt matters, i.e. defence. Hence, despite the statements resenting legislative interference from Westminster , Parliament was to "..remain sovereign in all matters" and consequently, Scottish legislative power "does not affect the power of the United Kingdom to make Laws for Scotland". Three powers, transferred matters, expected matters, reserved matters, the latter two remaining with the U.K., whilst it also retains all primary legislative powers in relation to the National Assembly for Wales "“ given only executive devolution. The Secretaries of state for each country will provide communication between their '..Parliament and Executive and between the U.K. Parliament and Government' thus providing the latter with active involvement in the former's issues, although disputes over representation of each country will arise if the majority in the assembly belongs to a different party. Therefore, Westminster preserves full capacity to repeal/amend the three Acts, at any time, without any prior process and to legislate on any aspect of their affairs. Provisions for the formation of the executive, dissolution of Parliament and electoral system differ from the Westminster models, a fact questioning the validity that the "relationship between the Scottish Executive and Scottish Parliament will be similar.." to their U.K. counterparts, as there will be no single party which will enjoy a majority in the Scottish Parliament due to proportional representation. Scotland and Wales both have electoral systems where voters cast two votes, the first for a representative for each Westminster constituency in the country, the others for members per region for each of their prospective Euro-Parliament regions. Yet, this additional-member system creates 'two classes of members in the Commons "“ those who represent constituencies and those who do not", with the latter less accountable and there exists a difference in workload. It is a system that does work in other countries, such as Germany, but this is due to the special circumstance of federalism. Northern Ireland uses single transferable voting in multi-member districts. Regarding government formation, the Scotland Act 1998 is constitutionally modern. The Scottish Parliament nominates one of its members First Minister within 28 days of a general election/vacancy in office, and they vote to approve nominated Scottish Ministers, Lord Advocate, Solicitor General and Junior Ministers, with special powers accorded to the First Minister. On the other hand, the Assembly First Secretary and Assembly Secretaries elects one of its number to Assembly First Secretary, who in turn appoints the remaining members of the Executive committee without reference to Assembly or sovereign. Furthermore, the Northern Ireland assembly elects First and Deputy First Ministers as a team, which take office only after securing the support of the triple majority, with the d'Hondt system of proportional representation being applied for ministerial positions. At government replacement, all countries have a general election followed by the nomination/election of a new government at four-year intervals. However, both Scotland and Northern Ireland have difficult early dissolution provisions, whilst there is none in the Welsh Act. The devolution Acts contain a number of weaknesses and flaws , the space for which is limited in this essay. The formula for representation at Westminster is questioned by the 'West Lothian problem'. It asks whether it is justifiable for Scottish MP's, after devolution, to continue voting for English domestic issues when there non-Scottish counterparts could not do the same with Scottish domestic affairs, and for Scottish MP's to become member of a British Parliament which has functions which were the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament. For example, all taxation for Scotland, unless it uses its limited tax-varying powers, continues to be imposed by Westminster and yet "expenditure of public money is of concern to all parts of the United Kingdom since it may directly affect the level of taxation and indirectly influence the level of a region's own expenditure". This question of Scottish representation in the House of Commons highlights the constitutional imbalance in a unitary state caused by asymmetrical devolution. The logical but politically unrealistic answer would be legislation implementing devolution all round "“ a federal state, impossible as "the needs of the various parts of the Union differ"¦the diversity of the countries which make up the United Kingdom"¦constitutes one of its greatest strengths". Others respond that this challenge can be overcome by creating devolved government at a regional level in England. However, in countries such as Italy and Spain, there has been asymmetric devolution with some regions enjoying greater powers than others, yet there is no 'West Sardinian Question' or 'West Catalonian Question'; devolution there has been perfectly workable. Another cause for tension is the unwillingness of the U.K. government to devolve extensive economic powers to the countries, requiring the latter to go cap in hand to acquire the greater part of their revenues. The resignation of Welsh Assembly First Secretary Alun Michaels, due to problems securing funds from the treasury in the application for a European Union matching grant, illustrates this. Also, the Barnett formula, developed in 1978 to avoid an annual conflict for funds between the treasury and the executive of the proposed Scottish assembly, has been criticized. Described as a "quasi-federal funding arrangement, which guarantees to Scotland and Wales a fixed proportion of the spending allocated to England", English voices have sounded out the unjust higher share of per capita identifiable in Scotland, and questioned if she really has much more greater needs than England. It must be noted there are a number of other impacts, i.e. the re-organization of each country's government departments, the new constitutional role of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the impact of HRA 1998 and the European dimension. In conclusion, the concept, in relation to both devolution and the HRA 1998, that 'the delegation of central government powers without the relinquishment of sovereignty' is to a degree correct. However, exercise of that sovereignty will be politically and legislatively constrained somewhat by the new centres of power within the U.K. and the incorporation into domestic law of fundamental freedoms. More change due to these two issues still remains a prospect for the future, i.e. a form of federalism with more government for the English regions.   

PUBLIC LAW 2002/2003: COURSEWORK 1. Unlike the U.S.A. and Germany, the United Kingdom of Great Britain has no special legally sanctioned document, from which it derives the authority of the main organs of government, such as Parliament. However, it must be noted that the U.K. possesses a 'constitution' defined...

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