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Preamble

What

What

The first words of the United States Constitution are “We the
People of the United States”. These words hold a great significance
because of the implications of those words’ inclusion in the Constitution.
While the words of the Preamble do not actually have any innate legal
implications beyond introducing the rest of the Constitution, the meaning of
the Preamble with regard to the Constitution as a whole is quite significant
towards understanding the Constitution. “We the People”, as a phrase,
exhibits this significance, as that one phrase allows the Constitution to be
interpreted in a different light.

 

To quickly emphasize the importance of “We the People”
in the Preamble of the Constitution, one should examine the Preamble of the
Articles of Confederation. In the Articles of Confederation, the Preamble bears
no such phrase and instead moves quickly into the content of the Articles with
barely any such opening ideas. “We the People” is conspicuously
absent from the Preamble of the Articles.

 

In the Constitution, on the other hand, by opening up with
“We the People”, it immediately affirms that the Constitution is of
the people, for the people, and by the people of the United States. This
interpretation, which arises most strongly from the presence of “We the
People”, leads to an understanding of the Constitution as affecting the
people directly and not through regulations imposed on the States. In other
words, those words define that the interaction between the Constitution and the
citizens of the United States is direct and immediate, meaning that the
Constitution and the government it creates supersedes any State government.

 

The words “We the People” in the Preamble are often
considered the strongest links between the Constitution and the Declaration of
Independence, in that the Declaration of Independence was written from the
perspective of the people, not of specific individuals or of government. In
beginning the Preamble of the Constitution with “We the People”, the
Constitution is immediately emphasizing the significance of the people and is
also ensuring an understanding that the people are the ones giving power to the
Government. This is also a critical element to the American Constitution in
that the power of the Government mandated by the Constitution comes not from
God or from itself, but from “We the People.”

 

Starting off the Preamble in this fashion has influenced
interpretations of the Preamble and of the Constitution as a whole in that the
Preamble is often used as a kind of key for determining understanding of other
parts of the Constitution. Insofar as the Preamble begins with “We the
People”, it clearly emphasized the importance of the people and their role
in validating the Government, as opposed to the Government’s role in having
power over the people.

 

“We the People” is one of the most often quoted parts of the
Constitution, both because it is at the very beginning of the entire document
and because it significantly determines the nature of the rest of the
Constitution. In making the Constitution a document for the people and by the
people, the words “We the People” at the beginning of the Preamble
very much define the context in which the entire rest of the Constitution can
and should be understood.

Preamble to the US Constitution

Preamble to the US Constitution

Jacobson v. Massachusetts was an important case for a number of
different reasons, ranging from the implications that the case had on states’
rights to coerce citizens in appropriate situations, to the effect it had upon
the very nature of understanding healthcare even in the modern day world. But
the case had an effect which is often overshadowed by those more blatant issues
of citizens’ rights versus states’ rights and healthcare policy established by
the Government. The case actually asserted an important point regarding the
Preamble to the Constitution, helping to specify the Preamble’s place in court
decisions and legal thinking.

 

The facts of the case boil down to a conflict between a single
man, Jacobson, and the State of Massachusetts, over whether or not
Massachusetts could force Jacobson to be vaccinated. Massachusetts passed a
statute in 1902 which would require all citizens who had not been vaccinated at
some point during the past 5 years to become vaccinated or to pay a fine.
Jacobson, however, refused both to be vaccinated and to pay the fine. He sued
on the argument that the Massachusetts statute infringed on his liberty and
sought to have his position supported through law.

 

The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled against him, however, so he
appealed to the United States Supreme Court. They decided against Jacobson,
ruling that Jacobson’s refusal to accept the vaccination was not so much an act
of individual choice, as it was an act endangering those around him. He was
accepting the benefits of everyone else having received the vaccine without
having gotten it himself. Furthermore, this was a situation in which the State
had the power to force citizens to act in certain ways in order to protect the
common good.

 

The case established the concept of manifold restraints to action which
each citizen inherently accepts in being a citizen in order to make the overall
society function. There was some dissent, as the decision was a 7-2 decision,
but the decision was accepted, in general, primarily because it was a decision
so clearly in favor of the public. Jacobson’s disbelief in the science of
vaccination was not based on sound evidence and the general public welfare was
helped by the prevalence of the vaccination.

 

In terms of the Preamble to the Constitution, however, Jacobson v.
Massachusetts had a different effect. The Preamble does not have any legal
power within the Constitution. It is an introduction to the document as a whole
and does not, in and of itself, allow the exercise of any kind of legal power.
This was confirmed and established in the Syllabus of the decision for Jacobson
v. Massachusetts. The syllabus opened up with a statement on the fact that the
Preamble did not confer any powers to the Government or to citizens, and the
only power that can arise from the Constitution must come from elsewhere, not
the Preamble.

 

The spirit of the Constitution can be understood through the
Preamble’s words, but actual legal power would not arise from the Preamble.
This means that for all that the Preamble to the Constitution may provide a
strong basic framework for understanding the intent behind the Constitution as
a whole, the Preamble cannot be taken as directly legally relevant in providing
rights or powers either to the citizens or to the State.

 

In this particular case, the State’s actions were actually found
to be in accordance with the intent of the Constitution as described in the
Preamble. This would not have been enough to push the decision in Massachusetts’
favor if there had not been a law on the books for acting as it was, but it was
enough to confirm that Massachusetts was in the right.

A Complete Overview of the Preamble

A Complete Overview of the Preamble


The Preamble to the United States Constitution is one of the most well-known and oft-quoted parts of the entire Constitution, if only for the opening quote of "We the People…" It is, based purely on length, a relatively insignificant part of the Constitution as a whole and yet, based on meaning, it is highly significant.


 


The Preamble helps scholars, lawyers, and lawmakers to understand the Constitution as a whole, in its intent, its basic meaning, and its fundamental tenets. While the Preamble is not critical to the function of the Constitution for establishing the Government of the United States, it has come up time and again in court proceedings and will likely continue to arise long into the future.


 


Background



The Preamble was not actually written with the rest of the Constitution. The Constitution was submitted to a Style Committee after a first draft and that Committee finalized the Constitution's writing and also added the Preamble to the Constitution's beginning. As such, the Preamble does not add any definitive legal powers to the nature of the Constitution.


 


The importance of the Preamble comes, instead, from what it adds to interpretations of the Constitution as a whole. The Preamble has been an oft-debated bit of the Constitution, even though it is so short, because it uses several terms, each of which might be understood in multiple ways. Again, the Preamble does not offer up a concrete, definitive set of legal provisions, but it does influence the way in which the terms and legal definitions offered up elsewhere in the Constitution might apply.


 


If "The United States of America" is interpreted to mean different things based on the nature of the Preamble, then those differing interpretations would have major ramifications in any given party's understanding of the Constitution as a whole. For example, the phrase "to form a more perfect Union" was debated often and actually came into great relevance with regard to the Civil War when states were attempting to secede from the Union. The nature of the phrase, then, greatly influenced lawmakers' understanding of whether or not such secession was legal, which had even greater significance with regard to the aftermath of the Civil War. To find out more about the Preamble and some of the important terms included within, follow the link.


 


Importance of "We the People"


 


The phrase "We the People" at the very beginning of the Preamble and the entire Constitution is one of the most well-known phrases of the Constitution. It bears special significance to the Preamble and to the Constitution as a whole for its implications and its uniqueness. "We the People" establishes firmly that the Constitution is not a document dictating regulation of states by some larger Federal Government. It is a document establishing a government which deals with the people directly, and therefore, would overrule any state dealings with the people. It also establishes, importantly, that the power of the Government comes from no other source than the people themselves, who agree to exist under the rules of the Constitution in exchange for the rights and benefits which it provides.


 


"We the People" thus immediately sets apart the Constitution from many of its forebears, including the Articles of Confederation in America and even other constitutional documents throughout history. The phrase is also one of the primary links between the Constitution and the other document which is known by almost every American: the Declaration of Independence.


 


The Declaration of Independence has no legal bearing in modern day America; for all that it is a significant historical document, it is not an important legal document. But one of the primary ideas of the Declaration of Independence was that the people had the right to rise up against an oppressive government, as that government gained its power from the people. This concept was carried over into the Constitution through the "We the People" phrase in the Preamble, thus strongly exhibiting the intent behind the Constitution. For more information about the significance of "We the People" to the entire Constitution, click the link.


 


Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905)


 


Jacobson v. Massachusetts was an important case in American case law for a number of reasons. It significantly affected American understanding of what states could force citizens to do in the name of the public good. It affected American understanding of health care and the reasons for its importance. But it also affected American understanding of the Preamble, codifying one of the more important elements of interpreting that document.


 


Jacobson v. Massachusetts was a case in which one man, Jacobson, refused to be vaccinated under a Massachusetts statute requiring vaccination, and furthermore refused to pay the fine that came with a refusal to get vaccinated. He took Massachusetts to court, claiming that the statute violated his rights. He argued, among other points, that the laws implemented by Massachusetts actually violated certain rights which were granted to him in the Preamble of the Constitution, and furthermore, that those laws subverted the purposes of the Constitution as a whole. This required the United States Supreme Court to consider the nature of the Preamble in more depth, especially in terms of whether or not the Preamble had legal significance in and of itself.


 


In the end, the Supreme Court determined that the Preamble did not have any legal significance and could not be used as an argument based on rights that it supposedly granted to a citizen. On the other hand, the Preamble did provide an interpretation of the intent of the Constitution, such that the actions taken by Massachusetts in implementing that law actually seemed acceptable. To find out more about this case and how it was influenced by, and influenced in turn, interpretations of the Preamble of the Constitution, follow the link.

 

Understanding The Preamble

Understanding The Preamble

The Preamble to the United States Constitution was written after the rest of the Constitution had already been completed in a first draft. The United States Constitution was submitted to a Style Committee, which then revised the Constitution and also added the Preamble. This Committee was headed by Governor Morris of Pennsylvania, and he is often given the credit for having written the Preamble, even though historians cannot be absolutely confident as to whether it was written by him or another man within the Style Committee.
The significance of the Preamble to the rest of the United States Constitution has remained a topic to be debated for many years. The Preamble, though very short, presents a basic set of assumptions and concepts which many interpreted as having legal force. It establishes the basic intent for the Constitution, along with a basic understanding of the core ideas in the establishment of the Constitution, such as the fact that the Constitution was being ratified not by individual states, which would have been the only entities governed by the United States Constitution if they had been the ones ratifying it, but was instead being ratified by the people. 
The issue of whether or not the Preamble actually bears legal significance, however, was not immediately clear, especially because of the fact that many parties existing at the time of the Constitution’s inception believed that the Preamble provided all the necessary information which the Bill of Rights might have provided, thereby eliminating the need for a separate Bill of Rights. 
In general, at this point in American history, the Preamble is considered to have no genuine legal power. It does not grant rights to citizens, nor does it grant powers to the states or to the Federal Government that are not granted elsewhere in the United States Constitution. It does, however, explain some of the motivations and intent of the United States Constitution and it, furthermore, explains some of the basic tenets under which the United States Constitution operates. 
The Preamble provides a strong enough guide that it can influence policy in certain decisions and situations, as it can lead to an understanding of if or when certain principles should apply. A given statute, for example, would exist in law outside of the Preamble to the United States Constitution, but the exact interpretation and implementation of that statute could be influenced by the nature and language of the Preamble.
This means that many elements of the Preamble to the United States Constitution have been dissected and re-examined and dissected again over the years, as many have argued about exactly the way in which the Preamble should be interpreted. For example, understanding exactly what is meant when the phrase “People of the United States” is used is important to understanding the rest of the Constitution and how it should be interpreted. 
The understanding of the United States mentioned in the Preamble, for example, has been taken to mean parts of the world that are under the control and domain of the United States, but may not actually be part of the Union. Similarly, understanding the meaning of “We the People” bears great significance. So while the Preamble to the United States Constitution may not have any inherent legal power, it is highly important for understanding the Constitution as a whole and how it comes into play in any given situation.

Importance of We the People

Importance of We the People

The first words of the United States Constitution are
“We the People of the United States”. These words hold a great
significance because of the implications of those words’ inclusion in the
Constitution. While the Preamble in which those words

appear
does not actually have any innate legal
implications beyond introducing the rest of the Constitution, the meaning of
the Preamble with regard to the Constitution as a whole is quite significant
towards understanding the Constitution. “We the People,” as a phrase,
exhibits this significance, as that one phrase allows the Constitution to be
interpreted in a different light.

 

To quickly emphasize the importance of
“We the People” in the Preamble of the Constitution, one should
examine the Preamble of the Articles of Confederation. In the Articles of
Confederation, the Preamble bears no such phrase, and instead moves quickly into
the content of the Articles with barely any such opening ideas. “We the
People” is conspicuously absent from the Preamble of the Articles.

 

The Constitution, on the other hand, by opening up with
“We the People” immediately affirms that the Constitution is of the
people, for the people, and by the people of the United States. This
interpretation, which arises most strongly from the presence of “We the
People” in the Preamble, effectively leads to an understanding of the
Constitution as affecting the people directly and not through regulations
imposed on the States. In other words, those words define that the interaction
between the Constitution and the citizens of the United States is direct and
immediate, meaning that the Constitution, and the government it
creates, supersede
s any State government.

 

The words “We the People” in the
Preamble are often considered the strongest links between the Constitution and
the Declaration of Independence, in that the Declaration of Independence was
written from the perspective of the people, not of specific individuals or of
government. In beginning the Preamble of the Constitution with “We the
People,” the Constitution is immediately emphasizing the significance of
the people and is also ensuring an understanding that the people are the ones
giving power to the
Government. This is also a critical element to
the American Constitution, in that the power of the
Government mandated by the Constitution comes not from God
or from itself, but from “We the People.”

 

Starting off the Preamble in this fashion has influenced
interpretations of the Preamble and of the Constitution as a whole in that the
Preamble is often used as a kind of key for determining understanding of other
parts of the Constitution. Insofar as the Preamble begins with “We the
People,” then, it clearly emphasized the importance of the people and
their role in validating the
Government,
as opposed to the
Government’s role in having power over the
people.

 

“We the People” is one of the most
often quoted parts of the Constitution, both because it is at the very
beginning of the entire document and because it significantly determines the
nature of the rest of the Constitution. In making the Constitution a document
for the people and by the people, the words “We the People” at the
beginning of the Preamble very much define the context in which the entire rest
of the Constitution can and should be understood.

Jacobson v. Massachusetts 1905

Jacobson v. Massachusetts 1905

 

Jacobson v. Massachusetts was an important case for a number of different reasons, ranging from the implications that the case had on states' rights to coerce citizens in appropriate situations, to the effect it had upon the very nature of understanding healthcare even in the modern day world. But the case had an effect which is often overshadowed by those more blatant issues of citizens' rights versus states' rights and health care policy established by the Government. The case actually asserted an important point regarding the Preamble to the Constitution, helping to specify the Preamble's place in court decisions and legal thinking.

The facts of the case boil down to a conflict between a single man, Jacobson, and the State of Massachusetts, over whether or not Massachusetts could force Jacobson to be vaccinated. Massachusetts passed a statute in 1902 which would require all citizens who had not been vaccinated at some point during the past 5 years to become vaccinated or pay a fine. Jacobson, however, refused both to be vaccinated and to pay the fine. He sued on the argument that the Massachusetts statute infringed on his liberty and sought to have his position supported through Masachusettes law.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled against him, however, so he appealed to the United States Supreme Court. They decided against Jacobson, ruling that Jacobson's refusal to accept the vaccination was not so much an act of individual choice as it was an act endangering those around him. He was accepting the benefits of everyone else having received the vaccine without having gotten it himself. Furthermore, this was a situation in which the State had the power to force citizens to act in certain ways in order to protect the common good.

The case established the concept of manifold restraints to action which each citizen inherently accepts in being a citizen in order to make the overall society function. There was some dissent, as the decision was a 7-2 decision, but the decision was accepted, in general, primarily because it was a decision so clearly in favor of the public. Jacobson's disbelief in the science of vaccination was not based on sound evidence and the general public welfare was helped by the prevalence of the vaccination.

In terms of the Preamble to the Constitution, however, Jacobson v. Massachusetts had a different effect. The Preamble does not have any legal power within the Constitution; it is an introduction to the document as a whole and does not, in and of itself, allow the exercise of any kind of legal power. This was confirmed and established in the Syllabus of the decision for Jacobson V. Massachusetts. The syllabus opened up with a statement on the fact that the Preamble did not confer any powers to the Government or to citizens, and the only power that can arise from the Constitution must come from elsewhere, not the Preamble.

The spirit of the Constitution can be understood through the Preamble's words, yes, but actual legal power would not arise from the Preamble. This means that, for all that the Preamble to the Constitution may provide a strong basic framework for understanding the intent behind the Constitution as a whole, the Preamble cannot be taken as directly legally relevant in providing rights or powers either to the citizen or to the State.

In this particular case, the State's actions were actually found to be in accordance with the intent of the Constitution as described in the Preamble. This would not have been enough to push the decision in Massachusetts' favor if there had not been a law on the books for acting as it was, but it was enough to confirm that Massachusetts was in the right.

States Rights

Right to Privacy

John Witherspoon

James Wilson

Elbridge Gerry

John Dickinson