Constitution of the United States

The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America.[2] This founding document, originally comprising seven articles, delineates the national frame of government. Its first three articles embody the doctrine of the separation of powers, whereby the federal government is divided into three branches: the legislative, consisting of the bicameral Congress (Article I); the executive, consisting of the president and subordinate officers (Article II); and the judicial, consisting of the Supreme Court and other federal courts (Article III). Article IV, Article V and Article VI embody concepts of federalism, describing the rights and responsibilities of state governments, the states in relationship to the federal government, and the shared process of constitutional amendment. Article VII establishes the procedure subsequently used by the 13 States to ratify it. It is regarded as the oldest written and codified national constitution in force.[3]

Constitution of the United States
Page one of the original copy of the Constitution
JurisdictionUnited States of America
CreatedSeptember 17, 1787
PresentedSeptember 28, 1787
RatifiedJune 21, 1788
Date effectiveMarch 4, 1789[1]
SystemConstitutional presidential federal republic
Branches3
ChambersBicameral
ExecutivePresident
JudiciarySupreme, Circuits, Districts
FederalismFederation
Electoral collegeYes
Entrenchments2, 1 still active
First legislatureMarch 4, 1789
First executiveApril 30, 1789
First courtFebruary 2, 1790
Amendments27
Last amendedMay 5, 1992
CitationThe Constitution of the United States of America, As Amended (PDF), July 25, 2007
LocationNational Archives Building
Commissioned byCongress of the Confederation
Author(s)Philadelphia Convention
Signatories39 of the 55 delegates
Media typeParchment
SupersedesArticles of Confederation

Since the Constitution came into force in 1789, it has been amended 27 times, including one amendment that repealed a previous one,[4] in order to meet the needs of a nation that has profoundly changed since the 18th century.[5] In general, the first ten amendments, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, offer specific protections of individual liberty and justice and place restrictions on the powers of government.[6][7] The majority of the 17 later amendments expand individual civil rights protections. Others address issues related to federal authority or modify government processes and procedures. Amendments to the United States Constitution, unlike ones made to many constitutions worldwide, are appended to the document. All four pages[8] of the original U.S. Constitution are written on parchment.[9]

According to the United States Senate: "The Constitution's first three words—We the People—affirm that the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens. For over two centuries the Constitution has remained in force because its framers wisely separated and balanced governmental powers to safeguard the interests of majority rule and minority rights, of liberty and equality, and of the federal and state governments."[5] The first permanent constitution,[lower-alpha 1] it is interpreted, supplemented, and implemented by a large body of federal constitutional law, and has influenced the constitutions of other nations.