A constitution can be described as a body or set of rules that govern the affairs and conduct of an organized group. A constitution is a written document that governs the activities of an organized group. It can include a parliament, a church congregation, or a social club. The constitution may not include all of the rules that the organization follows. However, many other rules (e.g. bylaws or customs) are also included. The rules in the constitution are by definition basic. This means that all rules must follow them until they are amended according to the appropriate procedure. The presiding officer may have to declare a proposed order out of order if it violates a provision of the Constitution. In the concept of a constitutional is implicit the idea that a “higher law”, which has priority over all other laws, is implied.
Every political group and therefore every state has a Constitution, at least as long as they operate their important institutions in accordance with some basic body of rules. According to this definition, the only possible alternative to a Constitution is anarchy. The form of a constitution could take many forms. There are many different types of constitutions. They can be written, unwritten, codified, uncodified, and simple. A constitution can limit the sovereign’s power in a constitutional monarchy. An absolute monarchy has unlimited powers.
[The constitution of a political group outlines the principles and powers that determine the institutions to which the task is assigned]
[Absolute monarchies, such as the French, East Asian, and Roman Empires between 16th and 18th centuries, had all sovereign power concentrated in one person, the King or Emperor, who either directly exercised them or through his subordinate agencies, which acted according to his instructions. As the constitutions in most modern states provide, ancient republics such as Rome and Athens allowed for the division of powers between distinct institutions. No matter how it concentrates, disperses, or consolidates these powers the constitution contains at least the rules that determine the structure and operation of the government that runs the community.]
[A constitution may be more than a description of the authority with commanding powers]
A constitution may also limit those powers to ensure that certain fundamental rights are protected. Western political philosophy has deep roots in the notion that the state should have limits to its power. The idea that there should be limits on the power of the state is rooted in Western political philosophy. This was the view of the Greek philosophers long before Christianity. [They believed that positive law, or the law which is enforced in a community, must conform to the principles of an ideal, superior law.] This was called natural law.
[Similar ideas were also propagated by Cicero (106-43 BC), as well as by the Stoics ( view Stoicism)]
Theologians of Scholasticism and the Church Fathers held later that positive laws are binding only if they do not contradict the precepts in divine law. These abstract considerations were accepted to some extent in the fundamental rules for positive legal systems. In Europe, during the Middle Ages, for instance, the authority of political rulers was not extended to religious matters which were strictly under the jurisdiction of the church. They were also limited by certain rights that were granted to at most some classes of subjects. It was not uncommon for disputes to arise over the rights granted. Sometimes, however, they were resolved through solemn legal agreements between the parties such as Magna Charta (1215). Even “absolute monarchs” in Europe were not always able to exercise absolute power. [In the 17th and 18th centuries, the king of France was, for example, ineligible to change the fundamental laws or disestablish Roman Catholicism.]