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constitutional law

the body of rules, doctrines, and practices that govern the operation of political communities. In modern times the most important political community has been the state. Modern constitutional law is the offspring of nationalism as well as of the idea that the state must protect certain fundamental rights of the individual. As the number of states has multiplied, so have constitutions and with them the body of constitutional law, though sometimes such law originates from sources outside the state. The protection of individual rights, meanwhile, has become the concern of supranational institutions, particularly since the mid-20th century.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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