Page:Black's Law Dictionary (Second Edition).djvu/262

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CONSTITUTIONAL 254 CONSTRUCTION


the constitution or fundamental law of the state. Dependent upon a constitution, or secured or regulated by a constitution: as "constitutional monarchy," "constitutional rights.”

—Constitutional convention. A duly constituted assembly of delegates or representatives of the people of a state or nation for the purpose of framing, revising, or amending its constitution.—Constitutional liberty or freedom. Such freedom as is enjoyed by the citizens of a country or state under the protection of its constitution; the aggregate of those personal, civil, and political rights of the individual which are guaranteed by the constitution and secured against invasion by the government or any of its agencies. People v. Hurlbut. 24 Mich. 106. 9 Am. Rep. 103.—Constitutional law. (1) That branch of the public law of a state which treats of the organization and frame of government, the organs and powers of sovereignty, the distribution of political and governmental authorities and functions, the fundamental principles which are to regulate the relations of government and subject, and which prescribes generally the plan and method according to which the public affairs of the state are to be administered. (2) That department of the science of law which treats of constitutions, their establishment, construction, and interpretation, and of the validity of legal enactments as tested by the criterion of conformity to the fundamental law. (3) A constitutional law is one which is consonant to, and agrees with, the constitution; one which is not in violation of any provision of the constitution of the particular state. —Constitutional officer. One whose tenure and term of office are fixed and defined by the constitution, as distinguished from the incumbents of offices created by the legislature. Foster v. Jones, 79 Va. 642, 52 Am. Rep. 637; People v. Scheu, 60 App. Div. 592, 69 N.Y. Supp. 597.


CONSTITUTIONES. laws promulgated, i. e., enacted, by the Roman Emperor. They were of various kinds, namely, the following: (1) Edicta; (2) decreta; (3) rescripta, called also "epistolæ." Sometimes they were general, and intended to form a precedent for other like cases; at other times they were special, particular, or individual, (personales.) and not intended to form a precedent. The emperor had this power of irresponsible enactment by virtue of a certain lex regia, whereby he was made the fountain of justice and of mercy. Brown.

Constitutiones tempore posteriores potiores sant his quæ ipses præcesserunt. Dig. 1, 4, 4. Later laws prevail over those which preceded them.

CONSTITUTIONS OF CLARENDON. See CLARENDON.

CONSTITUTOR. In the civil law. One who, by a simple agreement, becomes responsible for the payment of another's debt.

CONSTITUTUM. in the civil law. An agreement to pay a subsisting debt which exists without any stipulation, whether of the promisor or another party. It differs from a stipulation in that It must be for an existing debt. Du Cange.

Constitutum esse eam domum unlcuique nostrum debere existimari, ubi quisque sedes et tabulas haberet suarumque rerum constitutionem fecisset. It is settled that that is to be considered the home of each one of us where he may have his habitation and account-books, and where he may have made an establishment of his business. Dig. 50, 16, 203.

CONSTRAINT. This term is held to be exactly equivalent with “restraint." Edmondson V Harris, 2 Tenn. Ch. 427. In Scotch law. Constraint means duress.

CONSTRUCT. To build; erect; put together; make ready for use. Morse v. Westport, 110 Mo. 502, 19 S.W. 831; Contas v. Bradford, 206 Pa. 291, 55 Atl. 989.

Constructio legis non facit injuriam. The construction of the law (a construction made by the law) works no injury. Co. Litt. 183; Broom, Max. 603. The law will make such a construction of an instrument as not to injure a party.

CONSTRUCTION. The process, or the art, of determining the sense, real meaning, or proper explanation of obscure or ambiguous terms or provisions in a statute, written instrument, or oral agreement, or the application of such subject to the case in question, by reasoning in the light derived from extraneous connected circumstances or laws or writings bearing upon the same or a connected matter, or by seeking and applying the probable aim and purpose of the provision.

It is to be noted that this term is properly distinguished from interpretation, although the two are often used synonymously. In strictness, interpretation is limited to exploring the written text, while construction goes beyond and may call in the aid of extrinsic considerations, as above indicated.

Strict and liberal construction. Strict construction is construction of a statute or other instrument according to its letter, which recognizes nothing that is not expressed. takes the language used in its exact and technical meaning, and admits no equitable considerations or implications. Paving Co. v. Watt. 51 La. Ann 1345, 26 South. 70; Stanyan v. Peterborough, 69 N.H. 372, 46 Atl. 191. Liberal construction, on the other hand, expands the meaning of the statute to meet cases which are clearly within the spirit or reason of the law, or within the evil which it was designed to remedy, provided such an interpretation is not inconsistent with the language used; it resolved all reasonable doubts in favor of the applicability of the statute to the particular case. Black. Interp. Laws, 282; Lawrence v. McCalmont, 2 How. 449, 11 L. Ed 326; In re Johnson’s Estate. 98 Cal. 531, 33 Pac. 460, 21 L.R.A. 380; Shorey v. Wyckoff, 1 Wash. T. 351.

—Construction, court of. A court of equity or of common law, as the case may lie. is called the court of construction with regard to wills as opposed to the court of probate, whose duty is to decide whether an instrument be a will at all. Now, the court of probate may decide that