Political scientists use the word constitutionalism to describe the belief that a government's authority is dictated by a specific law or group of laws — a constitution.

People who feel strongly that government is not permitted to do anything that isn't clearly laid out in a written law are advocates of constitutionalism. In the United States, this means sticking to the letter of the Constitution, and checking all proposed laws against it. The important concepts in constitutionalism are a "higher law," or constitution, and using this as a means of limiting the powers of government.

Definitions of constitutionalism

n advocacy of a system of government according to constitutional principles

Type of:
ideology, political orientation, political theory
an orientation that characterizes the thinking of a group or nation

n a constitutional system of government (usually with a written constitution)

Type of:
form of government, political system
the members of a social organization who are in power

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