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 United States Constitution has proved itself the most marvelously elastic compilation of rules of government ever written.”
—Franklin D. Roosevelt (18821945)
“The very hope of experimental philosophy, its expectation of constructing the sciences into a true philosophy of nature, is based on induction, or, if you please, the a priori presumption, that physical causation is universal; that the constitution of nature is written in its actual manifestations, and needs only to be deciphered by experimental and inductive research; that it is not a latent invisible writing, to be brought out by the magic of mental anticipation or metaphysical mediation.”
—Chauncey Wright (18301875)
“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)