U.S. Constitution Vs. Jamaican Constitution
Upon initial consideration, one would presume that the United States Constitution and the Constitution of Jamaica would not be similar at all. After all, the United States Constitution was ratified in 1787, whereas the Jamaican Constitution was not ratified until 1962, the year Jamaica gained its independence. At first glance, Jamaica's constitution appears to be most similar to that of England, because they both establish a parliament and share the same chief of state (Queen Elizabeth II). These similarities are understandable considering the United Kingdom owned Jamaica until Jamaica gained its independence in 1962. But if one digs deeper into Jamaica's constitution, the many resemblances with the United States Constitution begin to surface.
The Constitution of Jamaica was drafted by a bipartisan joint committee of the Jamaican legislature from 1961 to 1962. It was "approved in the United Kingdom and included as the Second Schedule of the Jamaica (Constitution) Order in Council, under the West Indies Act" (Politics of Jamaica). The document came into effect with the Jamaica Independence Act of 1962, which gave Jamaica political independence. The Laws of Jamaica exist under the Jamaican Constitution of 1962. Except for the entrenched sections, the constitution may be altered by a majority of all the members of each of the two Houses of Parliament. The constitution states the rules regarding the executive, the legislature, a judicature and the public service. It contains provisions relating to Jamaican citizenship and to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual. The United States and Jamaican constitutions are comparable in terms of their respective organizations of government, election methods, establishment of fundamental rights and freedoms.
Jamaica is a constitutional parliamentary democracy. The fusion of United States and England's governments is apparent simply from this name, with democracy relating to the U.S. and the parliament legislative system originating from England. Similarly to the U.S. Constitution, the Constitution of Jamaica creates three primary branches of government: executive, legislative (parliament), and judicial. Under this system of government, the principal leader of the executive branch is the head of the state. The current Jamaican head of state is Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, who is given the title of "Queen of Jamaica". The United States Constitution does not establish a political figure that is similar to the Queen of Jamaica. The U.S. President serves a different purpose than the Queen and gains his political status through election rather than inheriting the throne. Instead, the U.S. President is most like the Jamaican Prime Minister.
The Jamaican Prime Minister is the most important member of the cabinet and the acknowledged leader of the majority party. Just like the United States President and his cabinet, the Prime Minister and his cabinet are responsible for the legislature powers and represent the principal instrument of governmental policy.
The Queen is represented by a Governor-general, who is appointed by the Prime Minister. The Governor-general is "given authority, as the representative of the Queen, to name the date of a general election, to appoint Ministers and assign them responsibilities to appoint Parliamentary Secretaries, the Attorney General, Senators, Privy Councilors, the Chief Justice, the President of the Court of Appeal, the Director of Public Prosecutions and members of the Services Commissions" (In a Nutshell
The Jamaica Constitution). The Governor-general serves a similar purpose in the Jamaican government than the Vice President of the United States. Both assist and represent their respective country's top executive official.
The Jamaican legislative branch exists under England's parliamentary system. The Parliament is bicameral, consisting of a House of Representatives and a Senate. Jamaica's Constitution gives Parliament "the power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Jamaica" (In a Nutshell: the Jamaica Constitution). As with the U.S., bills may be introduced by any member of either house, and approved by both houses. The existence of an upper house (Senate) in both Constitutions permits useful participation in public affairs to those who might not wish to run for election. Senate also encourages the patronage offerings of the major political parties.
The final branch that the Constitution of Jamaica creates is the judicial branch. As is the case with the U.S. judicial branch, the Jamaican judiciary is a network of courts, ranging from petty sessions of the Court of Appeal, to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, which is essentially identical to the U.S. Supreme Court. Also like the U.S. judicial system, the head of the Jamaican judicial branch is the Chief Justice.
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