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:
“One of the things I considered a delightful experience in school was the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I didnt realize the gap was so big from the Founding Fathers until now. And I didnt realize they werent talking about me.”
—Maxine Waters (b. 1938)
“In this choice of inheritance we have given to our frame of polity the image of a relation in blood; binding up the constitution of our country with our dearest domestic ties; adopting our fundamental laws into the bosom of our family affections; keeping inseparable and cherishing with the warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected charities, our state, our hearths, our sepulchres, and our altars.”
—Edmund Burke (17291797)
“Can you conceive what it is to native-born American women citizens, accustomed to the advantages of our schools, our churches and the mingling of our social life, to ask over and over again for so simple a thing as that we, the people, should mean women as well as men; that our Constitution should mean exactly what it says?”
—Mary F. Eastman, U.S. suffragist. As quoted in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 4 ch. 5, by Susan B. Anthony and Ida Husted Harper (1902)