What is the Meaning of the Preamble in the Constitution?
I have come to understand how the
left, and all those that support usurping the Constitution play their
game. The wordsmiths take one word, and combine it phrase or clause
withing the Constitution to make that clause work for them.
Take for example “establish Justice,
insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote
the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves
and our Posterity”
Take for example “establish Justice,
insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote
the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves
and our Posterity”, There have been many definitions as to what
the language means in the Preamble, and how it should be interpreted.
If you look at the entire contents of this link.
you will see many contradictions of how
certain parts of the Preamble were used to justify specific part of
the Constitution. By the Courts. Is that really how the courts
should be making rulings on the Constitutionality of the
Constitution. By going back and forth between what is in the body of
the Constitution, and the Preamble.
If the Preamble is as follows: An
introductory and expressionary statement in a document that explains
the document's purpose and underlying philosophy. When applied to the
opening paragraphs of a statute, it may recite historical facts
pertinent to the subject of the statute. It is distinct from the long
title or enacting
formula of a law.
Or is a brief introductory
statement of the Constitution's
fundamental purposes and guiding principles. It states in general
terms, and courts have referred to it as reliable evidence of, the
Fathers' intentions regarding the Constitution's meaning and what
they hoped the Constitution would achieve.
Does the use of the word SHALL or SHOULD be seen as meaning the same
thing, Should being past tense for Shall. SHALL, meaning it will be
done; used in laws, regulations, or directives to express what is
mandatory. used to express a command or exhortation. SHOULD, 1.
2. (used to
3. must; ought
propriety, or expediency).
Usage note Rules similar to those for choosing between shall and
will have long been advanced for should and would, but
again the rules have had little effect on usage. In most
constructions, would is the auxiliary chosen regardless of the
person of the subject: If our allies would support the move, we would
abandon any claim to sovereignty. You would be surprised at the
complexity of the directions. Because the main function of should in
modern American English is to express duty, necessity, etc. ( You
should get your flu shot before winter comes ), its use for other
purposes, as to form a subjunctive, can produce ambiguity, at least
initially: I should get my flu shot if I were you.
I am confused as to how the wordsmiths get around the true meaning of
our Constitution to suit their own meaning, and thus change the
Constitution in their favor. Over what is meant. They use these word
games and double dealing of the meaning of the Preamble and the
Constitutions Body. It may very well be that the Courts have used the
same game plan, to justify their making law instead of ruling on its
Constitutionality, as written in its Body.
we go back to the explanation of the Preamble, and how it has been
used over the decades. You may find some contradictions for yourself:
The Preamble serves solely as an introduction, and does not assign
powers to the federal
nor does it provide specific limitations on government action. Due to
the Preamble's limited nature, no court has ever utilized it as a
decisive factor in case adjudication,
except as regards frivolous
The courts have shown interest in any clues they can find in the
Preamble regarding the Constitution's meaning.
Courts have developed several techniques for interpreting
the meaning of statutes and these are also used to interpret the
As a result, the courts have said that interpretive techniques that
focus on the exact text of a document
should be used in interpreting the meaning of the Constitution, so
the Preamble provides additional language against which to compare
other parts of the Constitution. Balanced against these techniques
are those that focus more attention on broader efforts to discern the
meaning of the document from more than just the wording;
the Preamble is also useful for these efforts to identify the
"spirit" of the Constitution.
Additionally, when interpreting a legal document, courts are usually
interested in understanding the document as its authors did and their
motivations for creating it;
as a result, the courts have cited the Preamble for evidence of the
history, intent and meaning of the Constitution as it was understood
by the Founders.
Although revolutionary in some ways, the Constitution maintained many
law concepts (such as habeas
by jury, and sovereign
and courts deem that the Founders' perceptions of the legal system
that the Constitution created (i.e., the interaction between what it
changed and what it kept from the British legal system)
are uniquely important because of the authority "the People"
invested them with to create it.
Along with evidence of the understandings of the men who debated and
drafted the Constitution at the Constitutional
Convention, the courts are also interested in the way that
government officials have put into practice the Constitution's
provisions, particularly early government officials,
although the courts reserve to themselves the final authority to
determine the Constitution's meaning.
However, this focus on historical understandings of the Constitution
is sometimes in tension with the changed circumstances of modern
society from the late 18th century society that drafted the
Constitution; courts have ruled that the Constitution must be
interpreted in light of these changed circumstances.
All of these considerations of the political theory behind the
Constitution have prompted the Supreme Court to articulate a variety
of special rules of construction and principles for interpreting
For example, the Court's rendering of the purposes behind the
Constitution have led it to express a preference for broad
interpretations of individual freedoms.
An example of the way courts utilize the Preamble is Ellis v. City
of Grand Rapids.
Substantively, the case was about eminent
domain. The City
of Grand Rapids wanted to use eminent domain to force landowners
to sell property in the city identified as "blighted", and
convey the property to owners that would develop it in ostensibly
beneficial ways: in this case, to St. Mary's Hospital, a Catholic
organization. This area of substantive constitutional law is governed
by the Fifth
Amendment, which is understood to require that property acquired
via eminent domain must be put to a "public use". In
interpreting whether the proposed project constituted a "public
use", the court pointed to the Preamble's reference to
"promot[ing] the general Welfare" as evidence that "[t]he
health of the people was in the minds of our forefathers".
"[T]he concerted effort for renewal and expansion of hospital
and medical care centers, as a part of our nation's system of
hospitals, is as a public service and use within the highest meaning
of such terms. Surely this is in accord with an objective of the
United States Constitution: '* * * promote the general Welfare.'"
On the other hand, courts will not interpret the Preamble to give the
government powers that are not articulated elsewhere in the
Constitution. United States v. Kinnebrew Motor Co.
is an example of this. In that case, the defendants were a car
manufacturer and dealership indicted for a criminal violation of the
Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA). The Congress passed the statute
in order to cope with the Great
Depression, and one of its provisions purported to give to the
President authority to fix "the prices at which new cars may be
The dealership, located in Oklahoma City, had sold an automobile to a
customer (also from Oklahoma City) for less than the price for new
cars fixed pursuant to NIRA. Substantively, the case was about
whether the transaction in question constituted "interstate
commerce" that Congress could regulate pursuant to the Commerce
Although the government argued that the scope of the Commerce Clause
included this transaction, it also argued that the Preamble's
statement that the Constitution was created to "promote the
general Welfare" should be understood to permit Congress to
regulate transactions such as the one in this case, particularly in
the face of an obvious national emergency like the Great Depression.
The court, however, dismissed this argument as erroneous
and insisted that the only relevant issue was whether the transaction
that prompted the indictment actually constituted "interstate
commerce" under the Supreme Court's precedents that interpreted
the scope of the Commerce Clause.
v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11, 22 (1905) ("Although
th[e] preamble indicates the general purposes for which the people
ordained and established the Constitution, it has never been
regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the
government of the United States, or on any of its departments.");
see also United States v. Boyer, 85 F. 425, 430–31 (W.D.
Mo. 1898) ("The preamble never can be resorted to, to enlarge
the powers confided to the general government, or any of its
departments. It cannot confer any power per
se. It can never amount, by implication, to an enlargement
of any power expressly given. It can never be the legitimate source
of any implied power, when otherwise withdrawn from the
constitution. Its true office is to expound the nature and extent
and application of the powers actually conferred by the
constitution, and not substantively to create them." (quoting 1
JOSEPH STORY, COMMENTARIES
ON THE CONSTITUTION OF THE
UNITED STATES § 462 (1833))
(internal quotation marks omitted)).
v. Illinois, 180 U.S. 208, 219 (1901) ("[W]hen called
upon to construe and apply a provision of the Constitution of the
United States, [courts] must look not merely to its language but to
its historical origin, and to those decisions of this court in which
its meaning and the scope of its operation have received deliberate
States v. Wood, 299 U.S. 123, 142 (1936) ("Whether a
clause in the Constitution is to be restricted by a rule of the
common law as it existed when the Constitution was adopted depends
upon the terms or nature of the particular clause." (citing
Ill. Nat'l Bank & Trust Co. v. Chi., Rock Island & Pac. Ry.
Co., 294 U.S. 648 (1935))); Mattox
v. United States, 156 U.S. 237, 243 (1895) ("We are
bound to interpret the Constitution in the light of the law as it
existed at t he time it was adopted, not as reaching out for new
guaranties of the rights of the citizen, but as securing to every
individual such as he already possessed as a British subject -- such
as his ancestors had inherited and defended since the days of Magna
Bank v. Fenno, 75 U.S. (8 Wall.) 533, 542 (1869) ("We
are obliged . . . to resort to historical evidence, and to seek the
meaning of the words [in the Constitution] in the use and in the
opinion of those whose relations to the government, and means of
knowledge, warranted them in speaking with authority.").
just wanted to comment on what strikes me as a cop out. When it comes
to making a ruling on the Constitutionality of any new law. I for one
do not see, anything in this Article that says that the Justices are
tasked with Interpreting anything. I don't see anything that says
that they are to combine the Preamble with the body of the
Constitution, or trying to decided what was meant by the Founding
Fathers. The Constitution is not a reference book, It is a document
stating our Rules of Law. Why is that so hard to understand. I think
that I am capable of reading and understanding the Constitution as it
is written. I also think that is why it was written as it was. So
that it did not take a Judge, Lawyer, Priest, Academic or even a
Congressmen to explain it to the people.
To me, the words General
Welfare, mean just that I don't care if the “G” in general is not
capitalized, and the “W” is. To me it still means in general the
Founding Fathers hoped that the Government would look out for the
well-being of all the Citizens. I also think that these two words,
The verb: promote
to help or encourage to exist or flourish and provide
A verb: to make available; furnish. Are used to confuse and justify
ones personal thoughts of what the Constitution says the Government
can do, and what the usurpers want it to say. Thus we come to further
The concern of the government for the health, peace, morality,
and safety of its citizens.
Providing for the welfare of the general public is a basic goal of
government. The preamble to the U.S. Constitution cites promotion of
the general welfare as a primary reason for the creation of the
Constitution. Promotion of the general welfare is also a stated
purpose in state constitutions and statutes. The concept has sparked
controversy only as a result of its inclusion in the body of the U.S.
The first clause of Article I, Section 8, reads, "The
Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts
and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and
general Welfare of the United States." This clause, called the
General Welfare Clause or the Spending Power Clause, does not grant
Congress the power to legislate for the general welfare of the
country; that is a power reserved to the states through the Tenth
Amendment. Rather, it merely allows Congress to spend federal
money for the general welfare. The principle underlying this
distinction—the limitation of federal power—eventually inspired
the only important disagreement over the meaning of the clause.
According to James
Madison, the clause authorized Congress to spend money, but only
to carry out the powers and duties specifically enumerated in the
subsequent clauses of Article I, Section 8, and elsewhere in the
Constitution, not to meet the seemingly infinite needs of the general
Hamilton maintained that the clause granted Congress the power to
spend without limitation for the general welfare of the nation. The
winner of this debate was not declared for 150 years.
In United States v. Butler, 56 S. Ct. 312, 297 U.S. 1, 80
L. Ed. 477 (1936), the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a federal
agricultural spending program because a specific congressional power
over agricultural production appeared nowhere in the Constitution.
According to the Court in Butler, the spending program invaded
a right reserved to the states by the Tenth Amendment.
Though the Court decided that Butler was consistent with
Madison's philosophy of limited federal government, it adopted
Hamilton's interpretation of the General Welfare Clause, which gave
Congress broad powers to spend federal money. It also established
that determination of the general welfare would be left to the
discretion of Congress. In its opinion, the Court warned that to
challenge a federal expense on the ground that it did not promote the
general welfare would "naturally require a showing that by no
reasonable possibility can the challenged legislation fall within the
wide range of discretion permitted to the Congress." The Court
then obliquely confided,"[H]ow great is the extent of that range
… we need hardly remark." "[D]espite the breadth of the
legislative discretion," the Court continued, "our duty to
hear and to render judgment remains." The Court then rendered
the federal agricultural spending program at issue invalid under the
With Butler as precedent, the Supreme Court's interest in
determining whether congressional spending promotes the general
welfare has withered. In South Dakota v. Dole, 483 U.S. 203,
107 S. Ct. 2793, 97 L. Ed. 2d 171 (1987), the Court reviewed
legislation allowing the secretary of transportation to withhold a
percentage of federal highway funds from states that did not raise
their legal drinking age to twenty-one. In holding that the statute
was a valid use of congressional spending power, the Court in Dole
questioned "whether 'general welfare' is a judicially
enforceable restriction at all."
Congress appropriates money for a seemingly endless number of
national interests, ranging from federal courts, policing,
imprisonment, and national security to social programs, environmental
protection, and education. No federal court has struck down a
spending program on the ground that it failed to promote the general
welfare. However, federal spending programs have been struck down on
other constitutional grounds.
Enumerated Powers are powers
given to the federal government by the terms of the U.S.
Constitution. The question whether the Constitution also should be
understood to give the federal government unenumerated powers was the
central issue in nineteenth century constitutional disputations.
Under Article II of the Articles of Confederation, the Confederation
Congress's powers were limited to those explicitly granted by that
document. This limitation on the federal legislature's powers, when
coupled with the extreme difficulty of changing a constitution whose
amendment required the unanimous agreement of the thirteen states,
stymied several nationalist initiatives in the period before the
adoption of the Constitution.
convention that drafted the U.S. Constitution in 1787 omitted any
provision echoing Article II of the Articles of Confederation.
However, several sections of the proposed constitution, particularly
the list of congressional powers in Article I, section 8, gave the
impression that the new federal government was to have only the
powers it was expressly
delegated. During the course of the ratification
debates of 1787–1790, several Federalist spokesmen—most notably
Governor Edmund Randolph of Virginia and Charles C. Pinckney of South
Carolina—assured this principle would be followed.
When the new federal government was
instituted, President George Washington found his cabinet sharply
divided on the issue of unenumerated powers. Secretary of the
Treasury Alexander Hamilton, who had joined with John Jay and others
in offering a highly nationalist interpretation of the Constitution
to the New York ratification convention, argued that both the
Congress and the president could claim broad powers that, although
not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, naturally inhered in
the legislative and executive branches. Secretary of State Thomas
Jefferson, on the other hand, insisted on the reading of the
constitution successfully offered by Attorney General Randolph in the
Virginia ratification convention. Jefferson cited the Tenth Amendment
his argument. A similar debate in the House pitted Federalist
Representative Fisher Ames against James Madison.
Washington, whose experience in the Revolution had convinced him
of the necessity of Hamilton's program, sided with Hamilton. In the
following decade, Chief Justice John Marshall authored a number of
Supreme Court opinions endorsing the Hamiltonian-nationalist reading
of the Constitution; the most important of these, McCulloch v.
Maryland, elicited Madison's observation that the Constitution
never would have been ratified if people had seen McCulloch
Madison's last act as president in 1817 was to veto
the Bonus Bill, legislation providing for significant federal
expenditures on public works. Madison instructed congressional
leaders among his fellow Jeffersonians that strict construction must
remain their guiding principle and that an amendment authorizing
federal expenditures of this type should precede any such
President Andrew Jackson adhered to this principle, notably in his
Bank Bill Veto Message, as did his Democratic successors (most of the
time). Yet, while Democratic electoral success demonstrated the
popular appeal of the doctrine of enumerated powers, the antebellum
period saw the parallel growth of a nationalist reading of the
Constitution in the Hamiltonian
tradition. The divergence between these two conceptions of the
federal relationship, in conjunction with the ultimate identification
of each of them with a great sectional political party, formed the
for the Civil War.
With the triumph of the Republican Union in 1865, the doctrine of
enumerated powers went into eclipse. It still figured in
constitutional argumentation, but the main line of constitutional
reasoning came to hold that the federal government had essentially
all powers that were not explicitly denied it by the constitution.
This conception was precisely that which Hamilton had offered in
cabinet debate in the 1790s.
Lenner, Andrew. The Federal Principle in
American Politics. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield,
McDonald, Forrest. States' Rights and the Union: Imperium in
Imperio, 1776–1876. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000.
—K. R. Constantine Gutzman
“You are bypassing the obvious point
to be made about this phrase, which is that it is not applied to the
Federal Government in the preamble; it is applied to the ordaining
and establishing of the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution is
ordained and established in order to promote the general welfare. I
don't personally have the kind of contracted view of the role of
government that you do, but the clause in which these words occur
cannot be appealed to as support (for example) for government
management of health care.”
"promote" the general
welfare...... not >>>>>
GUARANTEE general welfare”
“Apples and oranges. Must our
government refute it's own laws and regulations to allow the liberal
mongers to have their cheap labor? Thats what it's all about?
If we did not provide for all the illegal immigrants what would they
do? Go away? I cant avail myself of the social services that I pay
for because of all the "need" by people who dont want to be
an American, but want to suck up the free ride. I say, Americans
first, all others second. And no, mexicans will never be American.
Neither will any other immigrant from the rest of the world who see
the USA as a freebie.”
there you have some food for thought. Shall we, or Should be believe
in out Constitution as it is Written, or take what the Professional
Politicians try to tell us it means, along with the help of a
misguided Judiciary, and a President. I further don't see that the
Constitution, gives the right of any President to use these Unelected
Agency or Department Heads commonly known as Czars.
I am in no way saying that the other
Presidents, that used them were right in using them. I personally
don't think that they should even exist in this Country, I don't care
when they got started or from whence they came. I don' t mind the
President having advisers, That is to be expected in any person
having the availability of honest and helpful information. In order
to do his or her job effectively.
But having anybody, who is not
elected, or least responsible to the people in positions that allow
them to make laws, regulations, or set policy over the people, Or
as in some cases a few select people. Without having any kind of
oversight is not right. And I am not so sure it is even
Constitutional. Having a government official, unelected, and
responsible to only one government leader, is a dictatorship.
a Constitutional Republic. Only one person sets policy. That is the
President. Only one Body makes Law, that is the Congress. Without
oversight nobody should be making Rules and Regulations that effect
the whole Country. And it is also not the right of judges or their
responsibility to make law either. Nor is it the job of the Media to
be the Biased and Bigoted Cheerleaders of President or his Policies.
They were allowed the Freedom of the Press to be the Watchdogs of
any of you think the same, or do you think that what the President,
Congress, Courts and the Media feeds you is the truth and nothing but
the truth. Honesty and Integrity has great meaning to me. That goes
hand in hand with ones Moral and Ethical grounding. Being Moral has
nothing to do with your Religion, and being Ethical has nothing to do
with your Job or Position in life. Both are your individual guides to
being Honest and having Integrity.
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