A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is. When these principles are written down into a single collection or set of legal documents, those documents may be said to comprise a written constitution.
Constitutions concern different levels of organizations, from sovereign states to companies and unincorporated associations. A treaty which establishes an international organization is also its constitution, in that it would define how that organization is constituted. Within states, whether sovereign or federated, a constitution defines the principles upon which the state is based, the procedure in which laws are made and by whom. Some constitutions, especially written constitutions, also act as limiters of state power, by establishing lines which a state's rulers cannot cross, such as fundamental rights.
The Constitution of India is the longest written constitution of any sovereign country in the world, containing 448 articles, 12 schedules and 100 amendments, with 117,369 words in its English language version, while the United States Constitution is the shortest written constitution, at 7 articles and 27 amendments.
Famous quotes containing the word constitution:
“The Constitution and the laws are supreme and the Union indissoluble.”
—Andrew Jackson (17671845)
“Man with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to the humblest living creature, with his god-like intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar systemwith all these exalted powersman still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.”
—Charles Darwin (18091882)
“The veto is a Presidents Constitutional right, given to him by the drafters of the Constitution because they wanted it as a check against irresponsible Congressional action. The veto forces Congress to take another look at legislation that has been passed. I think this is a responsible tool for a president of the United States, and I have sought to use it responsibly.”
—Gerald R. Ford (b. 1913)