The Law Dictionary

Your Free Online Legal Dictionary • Featuring Black’s Law Dictionary, 2nd Ed.

PEOPLE Definition & Legal Meaning

Definition & Citations:

A state; as the people of the state of New York. A nation in its collective and political capacity. Nesbitt v. Lushington, 4 Term R. 783; U. S. v. Quincy, 0 Pet. 407, 8 L. Ed. 458; U. S. v. Trumbull (D. C.) 48 Fed. 99. In a more restricted sense, and as generally used In constitutional law, the entire body of those citizens of a state or nation who are invested with political power for political purposes, that is, the qualified voters or electors. See Keller v. Hill, 00 Iowa, 543, 15 N. W. 009; Dred Scott v. Sandford, 19 How. 404, 15 L. Ed. 091; Boyd v. Nebraska, 143 U. S. 135, 12 Sun. Ct. 375, 30 L. Ed. 103; Rogers v. Jacob, 88 Ky. 502, 11 S. W. 513; People v. Counts, 89 Cal. 15, 20 Pac. 012; Blair v. RIdgely, 41 Mo. 03, 97 Am. Dec. 248; Beverly v. Sabin, 20 111. 357; In re Incurring of State Debts, 19 R. I. 010, 37 Atl. 14. The word “people” may have various significations according to the connection in which it is used. When we speak of the rights of the people, or of the government of the people by law, or of the people as a non-political aggregate, we mean all the inhabitants of the state or nation, without distinction as to sex, age, or otherwise. But when reference is made to the people as the repository of sovereignty, or as the source of governmental power, or to popular government. we are in fact speaking of that selected and limited class of citizens to whom the constitution accords the elective franchise and the right of participation in the offices of government. Black, Const. Law (3d Ed.) p. 30.


This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.