||The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)|
An organic or fundamental law is a law or system of laws which forms the foundation of a government, corporation or other organization's body of rules. A constitution is a particular form of organic law for a sovereign state.
In the United States of America
The Organic Laws of the United States of America can be found in Volume One of the United States Code which contains the General and Permanent Laws of the United States. U.S. Code (2007) defines the organic laws of the United States of America to include the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776, the Articles of Confederation of November 15, 1777, the Northwest Ordinance of July 13, 1787, and the Constitution of September 17, 1787.
Under the current Constitution of France, organic laws are a short, fixed list of statutes (in 2005, there were about 30 of them), whose existence is provisioned by the text of the Constitution itself. According to the framing of the French Constitution (especially its preambles), they are of constitutional scope and have constitutional force. This means that they overrule ordinary statutes. They are enacted by the Parliament of France in the same way, however, except that the Constitutional Council of France must be consulted before any organic law is enacted.
This mechanism allows the French Constitution to provide flexibility where needed. Dispositions, such as the legislative process for enacting the budgets of the French state and French social security, as well as the practical procedures for the various elections, are delegated to organic laws, which reduces the need for amendments to the constitution.
In France, an important category of organic laws is budget system laws.
Under the current Spanish Constitution of 1978, an Organic Law has an intermediate status between that of an ordinary law and of the constitution itself. It must be passed by an absolute majority of the Congress of Deputies. The Spanish Constitution specifies that some areas of law must be regulated by this procedure, such as the laws developing fundamental rights and freedoms recognized in the first section of Chapter Two of Title I of the Constitution, as well as the laws that approve the Statutes of Autonomy of the autonomous communities of Spain, among others. Prior to the 1978 constitution, this concept had no precedent in Spain, but was inspired by the similar concept in the current French Constitution of 1958.
- Drafting Budget System Laws -- IMF Technical Guidance Note, Ian Lienert and Israel Fainboim, IMF, 2007