Q:

What does the phrase "do ordain and establish this constitution" mean?

A:

Quick Answer

The phrase "do ordain and establish this Constitution" in the preamble to the United States Constitution is an expression of popular sovereignty. Political authority in the United States is derived from the people rather than from God or any other source. The government can only govern so long as it reflects the will of the people and has their consent to do so.

Know More
What does the phrase "do ordain and establish this constitution" mean?
Credit: Gary CC-BY-SA 2.0

Full Answer

Popular sovereignty is first expressed in the Declaration of Independence as the principle that governments derive "their just powers from the consent of the governed." A government that does not respect the will of the people it governs loses its legitimacy and may be justifiably replaced. In the Declaration, the colonists expressed their belief that the British had violated their rights and ignored their wishes.

The Constitution codifies this principle into law. The authority of the federal government is explicitly derived from the consent of the people themselves as expressed through their participation in the political process. Popular sovereignty does not have to involve direct democracy, but the people must have the opportunity to elect their representatives. When the Constitution was ratified as the supreme law of the land, this was the first and most important instance of popular sovereignty in the United States.

Learn more about The Constitution

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are the 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution?

    A:

    The 27 amendments to the United States Constitution are additions that were ratified by the required number of states and have formally become part of the Constitution. The original 10 amendments were established in 1791, and the remaining amendments have been gradually adopted over time.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How old is the Constitution?

    A:

    As of September 17, 2014, the United States Constitution is 227 years old. The Constitution was signed by 39 delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. Government under the Constitution officially began on March 4, 1789.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Why has the Constitution lasted so long?

    A:

    The Constitution is interpreted and amended according to the needs of the times and because early leaders established a reverence for the Constitution that makes it an indispensable part of America's political heritage. Leaders advocate laws by imbuing passages of the Constitution with new meaning. Despite constant metamorphoses, the political norm is always to defend policy proposals by resorting to the Constitution.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18 of the Constitution?

    A:

    Article 1, Section 8, clause 18 of the United States Constitution gives Congress power to make any laws considered "necessary and proper" for the nation. According to Wikipedia, this clause, often called the "Necessary and Proper" or the "Elastic" clause, is sometimes accused of giving too much power to Congress.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore