A constitution is the underlying legal structure of a sovereign state. Unlike a statute, a constitution cannot be changed by a mere majority vote of the legislative branch and requires a special procedure in order to amend it. It may be a written document (such as the United States Constitution), a collection of customs (the Constitution of the United Kingdom), or a mixture of both. At a minimum, a constitution will deal with:

  • The powers of the various branches of government, such as the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.
  • How statutes may be passed and promulgated.

It may also deal with:

Since the United States Supreme Court case of Marbury v. Madison, the judicial branch of most western democracies has been accepted at the ultimate authority over whether a given statute is in violation of constitutional principles.