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Characteristics of Sovereignty

sovereign, legal, supreme, power and people

CHARACTERISTICS OF SOVEREIGNTY. In the nar rower sense, sovereignty is generally regarded as absolute. There is no limitation of a legal or governmental character upon the exercise of its power. speaking, all governments, whether monarchical, aristocratic, or democratic in form, are absolute. There are physical and moral limitations upon it, but, so far as the legal organization is concerned, there is no other or ganization or association within the limits of the State which can resist in any legal way the commands of the sovereign. In the broader sense of the term, political sovereignty is not abso lute, since the ruling element in the State, how ever powerful, is never strong enough to be abso lute in all things. ]t. is also pointed out by some authorities that there may be and actually are legal limitations on the power. Thus in the United States there is no legal way of depriving the States of their equal suffrage in the Senate without their consent (Const., Art. v.), and in Germany the special rights of the States are likewise protected (Art. lxxvii.). It also been strongly urged that the self-limita tion of a State through its own Constitution gives rrse to inviolable rights against the supreme power, and that therefore. although limited only bv its own act, the sovereignty of a State should be regarded as legally limited, and hence not absolute in character.

Furthermore, sovereignty in the narrower sense of the term is indivisible. There cannot be two sovereign powers acting on the same territory in all organized State. Twn supreme powers_ having jurisdiction over the same persons and things wonld be logieally impossible in a unified State.

One must be sovereign and the other subordinate. Both cannot he the highest, the supreme au thority. The King cannot he half-sovereign and the people halLsovereign, nor in a federal system can the various members of the union be partly sovereign and the central authority also partly sovereign. What seems like the division of sov ereignty in a 'federal State' is. on closer analysis, found to be either the actual sovereignty of the political society as a whole, as in the United States, or the complete sovereignty of a number of independent States, associated for certain com mon purposes. as in the Confederate States. The practical difficulty arises from uncertainty as to the degree of centralization in the given system.

The locution of sovereignty has been a vexed question, especially in connection with the rise of modern constitutionalism. The sovereignty of the King and that of the people have been stoutly aml ingeniously defended by the partisans I if court and commonalty. In general the theory of pop ular sovereignty has triumphed, although in tfermany the doctrine of State sovereignty has been accepted as a compromise. There the State, including both King and people, is declared to be the repository of supreme power by most publi cists. The location of sovereignty has also been a subject of discussion as well as actual warfare in Germany and the United States. and in both instances decision has been against the individual States. See STATES' RIGIlTS.