Task 1. Sovereignty and the rule of law. Read a short paragraph about British Constitution and mind the information about its principle characteristics.
A. Listen to an extract from a lecture, originally given by Lord Hailsham on BBC1 on October 14th 1976. He examined the dangers behind the “doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of Parliament” and discussed the “rule of law”. As you listen, put the points below in the order in which they are made.
A. Courts have to apply Acts of Parliament.
B. We could put more of our constitution in writing.
C. Up to now, our 'elective dictatorship' has been tolerable.
D. We impose no limitations on Parliament.
E. The limitations on Parliamentary sovereignty are only political and moral.
F. Our constitution is unique.
G. It is unacceptable that there should be no legal limitations on the powers of Parliament.
H. Parliament can prolong its own life.
I. Judges can pass judgment on the acts of Ministers: so the rule of law is applied.
B. Now listen again and answer the following questions.
1. What aspect of the British constitution does Lord Hailsham identify as singling it out from all the others?
2. According to Lord Hailsham, what options are open to the members of the Judiciary when called upon to interpret an Act of Parliament?
3. What limits to the sovereignty of Parliament does he point out?
4. What do you imagine Lord Hailsham means by the term 'elective dictatorship'?
5. Lord Hailsham claims “All other free nations impose limitations on their representative assemblies”. What limitations are placed on the representative assembly in Russia?
Task 2. Listen to an American lawyer talking about the US Constitution and then choose the most appropriate ending (A, B, C, or D) for each of the following sentences.
1. The American Constitution
A. is the longest in the world history.
B. is often amended.
C. regulates legislation in the USA.
D. occasionally conflicts with State laws.
2. The House of Representatives
A. has two elected members per State.
B. is composed of members who have a six-year term of office.
C. is based on proportional representation.
D. may instigate legislation.
3. The lawyer interviewed
A. is horrified by the fact that people dare to burn the flag of her country.
B. thinks that many issues are too unimportant to justify changing the Constitution.
C. thinks that the two-thirds majority rule was unfair concerning the Equal Rights Act.
D. is surprised that most of the Representatives are men.
4. The President
A. can only slow down the legislative process if he disapproves of a bill.
B. can exercise his power of absolute veto.
C. can veto proposed legislation, but this would mean loss of credibility.
D. has the power of veto but never uses it.
5. In the opinion of the American lawyer, the Supreme Court
A. has a purely legal and apolitical role.
B. has benefited from the intervention of Ronald Reagan.
C. is full of ruthless politicians.
D. is not entirely free from political manipulation.
6. The end of the dialogue suggests that
A. private courts are scandalously immoral.
B. the American lawyer strongly disagrees with the principle of private courts.