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Legal Dictionary

bill of rights

Definition of bill of rights

Noun

bill of rights (plural bills of rights)

  1. A formal statement of the rights of a specified group of people

Further reading

A bill of rights is a list of the most important rights of the citizens of a country. The purpose of these bills is to protect those rights against infringement by the government. The term "bill of rights" originates from England, where it referred to the Bill of Rights 1689. Bills of rights may be entrenched or unentrenched. An entrenched bill of rights cannot be modified or repealed by a country's legislature through normal procedure, instead requiring a supermajority or referendum; often it is part of a country's constitution and therefore subject to special procedures applicable to constitutional amendments. An unentrenched bill of rights is a normal statute law and as such can be modified or repealed by the legislature at will. In practice, not every jurisdiction enforces the protection of the rights articulated in its bill of rights.

Australia is the only Western country with neither a constitutional nor legislative bill of rights, although there is ongoing debate in many of Australia's states. Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard has argued against a bill of rights for Australia as transferring power from elected politicians to unelected judges and bureaucrats. Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) are the only regions of the nation's states to have a human rights bill.

References:

  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.



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