The Constitution of theis the fundamental blueprint of the US government system, and governs the relationship between citizens ("the people"), the constituent states, and the national government. It lays out a framework of government, consisting of a representative federal system whereby sovereignty is shared between the states and the national government, and details how the federal government is to be set up and run. It also outlines how power is to be shared between the federal government, the states, and the people.
The Preamble to the Constitution can be seen as a statement of ideals and goals for the nation and its government system, and is used to guide interpretation of the rest of the Constitution.
One of the more unusual features of the Constitution (particularly for the time period it was written in), is that is a limited government model: government is only allowed to do things explicitly designated as powers granted to it (or, powers which must follow to do something explicitly granted). That is, government does not start out with the ability to do anything, and then is forbidden to do things. Instead, it starts out with the ability to do NOTHING, and then is given the power to specific tasks. The People start out with the power to do ANYTHING, and then delegate to the government the ability to restrict these actions on a limited basis. This was virtually unique at the time, whereby most government systems (and political science theories of governance) presumed the opposite, that ultimate power (should) resided in the government, not the governed.
** not to be confused with the ship named USS Constitution (aka "Old Ironsides") built in 1797.
The supreme law of the US, it is the document that lays out the form and function of the US government.
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