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Constitution Definition

A constitution is a set of guiding principles or established precedents that forms the basis of a polity, organisation, or other types of body's judicial framework and typically specifies how that entity is to be governed. A written constitution is one that includes all of these principles in a single comprehensive report; a written constitution is one that includes each of these ideas in a unique legal document or series of legal documents. The United Kingdom's law, which is instead found in numerous fundamental Statutes of a legislature, judicial rulings, or treaties, is an established instance of a non-codified constitution.

Constitution Definition

Constitutions apply to several organizational levels, including corporations, unincorporated associations, and sovereign nations. As far as it outlines the organization's organizational structure, a treaty that creates an international organization also serves as that organization's constitution. A state's constitution establishes the guiding principles, the process, and the people who may make laws inside that state. Some constitutions, particularly codified constitutions, also serve as restrainers of state authority by drawing boundaries that a state's leaders are not allowed to violate, such as fundamental rights.

The Indian constitution is the world's longest written constitution, totalling 146,385 words in its English-language form; meanwhile, the "Constitution of Monaco" is the shortest, with just 3,814 words. Although the United States Constitution is the longest-serving codified constitution, San Marino's Constitution may be the oldest active written constitution in the world because some of its founding texts date back to 1600. Since 1789, a constitution has typically survived for about 19 years.

Origin of the word

The term "constitution" initially arose in French when it was translated from the Roman word "constitution," which was utilized for laws & orders such as imperial enactments. Later, the phrase was frequently used in canon law to refer to a significant decision, particularly a decree made by the Pope that is now known as an "apostolic constitution".

A substantial and egregious public trust breach warrants a revolutionary response, according to William Blackstone, who developed the term to describe such a breach. Blackstone did not want the phrase to refer to a legal document or to the later American idea of judicial review because doing so would have elevated the judiciary's authority beyond that of the legislative and undermined all forms of governance.


Nearly 800 constitutions have already been established and modified by independent states worldwide since 1789, including the oldest and shortest U.S. Constitution, which is still in effect. Thomas Jefferson stated that a constitution should be in effect for at least 20 years because "the world belongs to the people, instead of the dead" in the 18th century. In fact, a newly written constitution typically lasts 19 years, according to recent studies. As with the French Constitution of 1791, the majority of constitutions do not survive more than 10 years, and roughly 10% do not survive longer than one year. In contrast, certain constitutions, including the one of the U.S., have been in place for many years without going through any significant changes.

The political need for an early result and the brief time allotted to the constitutional writing process are the main causes of these frequent revisions. According to 2009 research, drafting a constitution takes an average of 16 months, though there have been some very long times. For instance, the secret preparation of the Myanmar 2008 Constitution lasted more than 17 years, whereas the bureaucrats just had a week to draft the Japan 1946 Constitution. The oldest continuously in-force constitution is that of Japan. The shortest process for drafting, enacting, & ratifying a constitution is the Romanian constitution of 1938, which created a royal monarchy in less than a month. According to studies, non-democracies are often the extreme examples when the constitution-making process is either too long or too short. Democratic nations do not necessarily have constitutional rights. Some non-democratic nations, like North Korea, have constitutions that formally grant everyone the right to free speech, among other rights.

Constitutional design principles

Many of the nations that emerged after native tribes first started to settle in cities and create them operated in accordance with unwritten conventions. In contrast, others had authoritarian, even despotic monarchs who ruled by proclamation or sheer whim. Due to this rule, some intellectuals came to the conclusion that the nature of the rulers, rather than the structure and functioning of the government, was what counted. Plato, who argued for the rule of "philosopher-kings," espoused this viewpoint. Later authors would study governmental structures from a historical and legal perspective, including Aristotle, Cicero, and Plutarch.

A number of political philosophers emerged throughout the Renaissance who attempted to find constitutional design principles that would, in their opinion, provide a more just and successful government. They also penned implicit critiques of the practices of kings. Beginning with the resurgence of the Roman idea of the law of nations and also its application to international affairs, they tried to develop societal "rules of war and peace" to lessen the severity and likelihood of wars. This prompted people to think about what authority rulers or other authorities do and do not possess, where that authority comes from, and how to stop its abuse of it.

The Cromwellian Protectorate, The English Civil War, the Levellers, and John Milton, & James Harrington's works all contributed to a turning point in this discussion in England. Algernon Sidney, Henry Neville, James Tyrrell, & John Locke squared up against Robert Filmer, a proponent of the divine right of monarchs. The latter gave rise to the notion that governments should be formally established on the foundational principles of a social state created by a social contract or compact that also brings underlying social or natural laws after first being established on the foundational principles of a natural state guided by natural laws.

Along the way, several authors looked at how the structure of government mattered, even when a monarch governed it. They also considered how just & effective different historical instances of political systems tended to be and why. They also considered how the advantages of each may be obtained by combining elements into a more complex design that balances conflicting drives. Some, including Montesquieu, also looked at how the government's legislative, executive and judicial parts might be properly divided. These authors all shared the belief that constitution design is not entirely random or a question of personal preference. They typically believed that fundamental design principles constrain every constitution for every state or organisation. Regarding such guiding principles, each is built on the concepts of those who came before.

Orestes Brownson's later works would make an effort to explain what the goals of the constitutional designers were. In a sense, there are three "constitutions" at play, according to Brownson: The first was the so-called "natural law," which is the entire constitution of nature. Before establishing a government, a society forms a social contract that results in the second, the constitution of society, which establishes the third, the constitution of government. The second would consist of things like publicly announced conventions where choices are made and which are then carried out according to established standards of procedure. Each constitution must be compatible with those that came before it and be based on a historical act of societal development or constitutional ratification for it to have legal force. According to Brownson, a state is a society that effectively dominates over a clearly defined territory. Presence on that territory results in consent to a well-designed written constitution of government, and provisions of that constitution may be deemed "unconstitutional" if they conflict with the constitutions of the environment or society. According to Brownson, a constitution of democracy must also be skillfully drafted and implemented in order to be legitimate. Ratification alone does not confer this authority.

In addition to all constitutions of government, other authors have claimed that similar factors also apply to the laws of private organisations. It is not by chance that the constitutions that tend to satisfy their members include certain sections that are, at a minimum, comparable to one another. In contrast, provisions suggesting no course of action may be left out and left to policy considerations. Provisions that raise specific types of problems are considered as needing additional provisions for how to address such questions. Disagreements that cannot be resolved often result from provisions that disagree with what Brownson and others can sense as the fundamental "constitutions" of nature and society.

Creating a written constitution that would serve as the rules for governing a country has been viewed as a form of the metagame in which the game's object is to identify the design and clauses that will most effectively balance the needs of justice, liberty, and security.

Constitutions are viewed by political economics theory as mechanisms for cooperation that assist citizens in preventing rulers from abusing their authority. The government will be motivated to uphold the rights that the constitution provides if the populace can organize a response to police officials in the event of a constitutional violation. An alternate perspective holds that the administrative powers of the state, rather than the general populace, are responsible for upholding constitutions. Since rulers cannot carry out their own policies, they must rely on various institutions (armies, courts, police departments, and tax collectors) to do so. As a result, individuals have the power to directly undermine the authority of the authorities by refusing to cooperate with them. Therefore, a self-enforcing equilibrium between the rulers and strong administrators might be used to describe constitutions.

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