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STATISTICS AND ILLUSTRATIVE CITATIONS
Belgium Austria. Chile Argentine
(682 B.C.-560 B.C.) Denmark Hungary
until 1918 Ecuador Brazil
(Senate aristocracy England Germany
IN THE TEXT
Unitary Federal Unitary Federal
272 B.C.-87 B.C.) Greece to Japan 1910)
(to 146 B.c.) Turkey (until 1908)
SOVEREIGNTY AND THE CONSTITUTION
Sovereignty is the supreme power of the state. The sovereign is that person or body of persons possessing the authority to direct the use of this supreme power. Notice carefully that the sovereign does not possess sovereignty: sovereignty is an attribute of the state as a whole. The sovereign is merely the person or body of persons who temporarily holds, either through the willing acceptance or approval of the people or through force and coercion, the authority to direct the use of this sovereignty (supreme power). So long as a state continues to exist, its sovereignty remains unchanged in nature, degree, or amount; but the sovereign, its personnel, its organization, its method of operation, may change a hundred times. Great Britain's sovereignty has not changed in the slightest degree through the centuries since Great Britain has been recognized as a separate state; but the sovereign has changed many times, as for example, to mention merely a few very conspicuous instances, in the Puritan Revolution, the Restoration, the Revolution of 1688, the rise and development of the British Cabinet.
A proper appreciation of this attribute of sovereignty is exceedingly important, for it is by virtue of this supreme power that a state is able to insure its own organization and to guide its own development. Some of the bitterest wars of history are traceable to the resentment felt by the people of one state at an attempt made by another state to interfere with a new proposed form of organization. A shining example is to be
noted in the European wars accompanying the French Revolution: the French state undertook to change its form of organization (its government); other European states intervened, not with an idea of destroying French sovereignty, but for the purpose of forcing France to maintain its old governmental organization; and the French state stood against the civilized world to defend its right to order its own internal existence in its own way.
Location of Sovereignty. In the last analysis, sovereignty is located in the people of the state as a whole. This fact is true as well of ancient autocracies as of modern democracies. It may possibly be that the people are so ignorant, so inert, or so accustomed to oppression that they endure for long ages a monstrous and unnatural system of government, but the ultimate supreme power to destroy such a system and to substitute another rests with them. Even the most tyrannical of despots recognized the fact that he could not go beyond certain limits in his exactions from his people. This location of supreme political power in the hands of the people as a whole is more evident in the democracy of our modern civilized states. With the advance of the general level of education and of political privileges, the people make their sovereignty more directly felt. It is sometimes argued that in Great Britain the combined King, House of Lords, and House of Commons possess sovereignty, for any measures to which they unitedly give their sanction become ipso facto the fundamental and unquestionable law of the state. But the people in the next election may exert their power to change the personnel of the House of Commons, thereby changing the personnel of government, and thereby ultimately forcing the repeal of objectionable legislation. Again, it may be argued that sovereignty in France is to be located in the two houses of the legislature acting together as a National Assembly, for this National Assembly has the power of amending the constitution of the State. But similarly, the people may make their sovereignty felt in the next elections. In the United States, it is easily
proved that the sovereignty rests with the people. Under the provisions of the constitution, a combination of two-thirds of both houses of Congress and the legislatures of three-fourths of the commonwealth has the power to promulgate fundamental law by amending the constitution. It might seem as though this combination possessed sovereignty because of this power to promulgate fundamental law, but notice two facts: 1st, that it acts under the limitations of methods set forth in the constitution; and 2nd, that the constitution itself exempts certain spheres from the possibility of legislative action. Obviously, then, sovereignty, or supreme power, lies back of the constitution in the hands of the people, whose predecessors framed the document, and who themselves accept it as the basis of existing law.
Location of the Sovereign.—Since sovereignty resides ultimately in the people, it might seem to follow logically that the people is the sovereign. Strictly speaking this statement is true, but it is a fact that the word sovereign is commonly used, both in political science and in popular reference, not for the possessor of sovereignty, but for that person or body of persons who has the authority to direct the use of sovereignty. It is desirable then, not only to know where sovereignty resides, but also what person or body of persons has the authority in a state to exercise this sovereignty. It is desirable to locate the sovereign.
In ancient autocratic states, the location of the sovereign was relatively a simple problem. The monarch whose command became instantly the law to his people held the authority to exercise the supreme power. The autocrat was sovereign.
In certain of the modern democratic states the location of the sovereign is not a difficult task. In England, for example, the combined King, House of Lords, and House of Commons constitute the sovereign. Measures to which they unitedly give their sanction become the law of the state.
In France, on the other hand, ordinary legislation which is unquestionably an exercise of sovereignty-issues from the