[Constitution of the United States of America:  Analysis, and Interpretation - 1992 Edition ]
[The Constitution of the United States of America (With Annotations)]
[The Preamble]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 51]]




                               OF AMERICA


                            WITH ANNOTATIONS


[[Page 53]]

                              THE PREAMBLE

        We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more 
perfect Union, 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, do ordain and 
establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

                         PURPOSE AND EFFECT OF THE PREAMBLE

                    Although the preamble is not a source of power for 
            any department of the Federal Government, \1\ the Supreme 
            Court has often referred to it as evidence of the origin, 
            scope, and purpose of the Constitution. \2\ ``Its true 
            office,'' wrote Joseph Story in his COMMENTARIES, ``is to 
            expound the nature and extent and application of the powers 
            actually conferred by the Constitution, and not 
            substantively to create them. For example, the preamble 
            declares one object to be, `to provide for the common 
            defense.' No one can doubt that this does not enlarge the 
            powers of Congress to pass any measures which they deem 
            useful for the common defence. But suppose the terms of a 
            given power admit of two constructions, the one more 
            restrictive, the other more liberal, and each of them is 
            consistent with the words, but is, and ought to be, governed 
            by the intent of the power; if one could promote and the 
            other defeat the common defence, ought not the former, upon 
            the soundest principles of interpretation, to be adopted?'' 

                    \1\ Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11, 22 
                    \2\ E.g., the Court has read the preamble as bearing 
            witness to the fact that the Constitution emanated from the 
            people and was not the act of sovereign and independent 
            States, McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. (17 U.S.) 316, 403 
            (1819) Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 Dall. (2 U.S.) 419, 471 
            (1793); Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 1 Wheat. (14 U.S.) 304, 
            324 (1816), and that it was made for, and is binding only 
            in, the United States of America. Downes v. Bidwell, 182 
            U.S. 244, 251 (1901); In re Ross, 140 U.S. 453, 464 (1891).
                    \3\ 1 J. Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of 
            the United States (Boston: 1833), 462. For a lengthy 
            exegesis of the preamble phrase by phrase, see M. Adler & W. 
            Gorman, The American Testament (New York: 1975), 63-118.