In parliamentary procedure under Robert`s Standing Orders, a preamble consists of “considering” clauses, which are placed in a resolution (formal written motion) before resolution clauses.  However, preambles do not have to be included in resolutions.  Under Robert`s Rules of Procedure, the inclusion of such general information may not be helpful in the adoption of the resolution.  Although preambles may be considered an unimportant introduction, their words may have effects that may not have been intended by their authors. It is sometimes observed that the phrase “We the people of the United States” was inserted into the Constitutional Convention by the “Style Committee”, which chose these words — instead of “We, the people of the States of.”, followed by a list of thirteen states, for a simple practical reason: it was not clear how many states would actually ratify the proposed new Constitution. (Article VII declared that the Constitution would take effect as soon as nine of the thirteen states ratified it; and coincidentally, two states, North Carolina and Rhode Island, did not ratify it until after George Washington was sworn in as the first president under the Constitution.) The Style Committee could therefore not decide with certainty to list all States in the preamble. So they chose the language of both “We, the people of the United States.” The preamble sets the stage for the Constitution (Archives.gov). It clearly communicates the intentions of the authors and the purpose of the document. The preamble is an introduction to the supreme law of the land; That is not the law.
It does not define governmental powers or individual rights. While the preamble may have been of particular importance to a number of isolated issues before Congress in the nation`s early years, congressional presidents and leaders generally relied on the glowing phrases in the preamble to examine the broader meaning of the Constitution and the broader goals of the U.S. government. For example, President James Monroe has called the preamble to the Constitution key,17FootnoteSee James Monroe, The Writings of James Monroe: 1778–1794, 356 (Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, ed., 1898). and in his inaugural address, President John Quincy Adams described the opening words of the Constitution as explaining the purposes for which government was to be used without exception and sacred.18Footnote John Quincy Adams, inaugural address (March 4, 1825), reproduced in The Annals of America 509 (Abiel Holmes ed., 2nd ed. 1829). President Abraham Lincoln addressed these issues in his first inaugural address, invoking the perfect language of the preamble to emphasize the importance of national unity at a time when the country was on the brink of civil war.19Footnote Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address (March 4, 1861), reproduced in 4 The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln 265 (Roy P. Basler ed., 1953) (1787, one of the stated purposes of ordination and the introduction of the Constitution was to “form a more perfect union.”) In the midst of another constitutional crisis – which erupted in 1937 amid disputes over the constitutionality of the New Deal – President Franklin Roosevelt declared the need to read and reread the preamble to the Constitution, as their words suggested that the document could be used as an instrument of progress rather than an instrument of prevention of action.20FootnoteSee 81 Cong. Rec.
84 (1937). Decades later, Representative Barbara Jordan, the first African-American woman elected to the Southern House of Representatives, quoted the preamble in a statement to the House Judiciary Committee as she discussed the articles of President Richard Nixon`s impeachment proceedings.21Footnote H. Res. 803 hearings before H. Comm. on justice, 93d Cong. 111 (1974) (Statement by the Republic of Jordan). In that statement, she noted that, through the process of amendment, interpretation and judicial decision, she had been received into We the People and was now serving as an inquisitor to preserve the objectives of the Constitution.22Footnote Id.
In the years since the Constitution was ratified, the preamble has played a relatively minor role as a legal doctrine, but an outsized one, especially outside the courtroom, in embodying the American constitutional vision. With regard to the legal effect of the preface to the Constitution, in the early years of the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court referred to the terms of the preamble in some of the most important cases of constitutional interpretation. For example, in 1793, two members of the Court quoted the preamble to Chisholm v. Georgia argued that in drafting the Constitution, the people necessarily submitted the State of Georgia to the jurisdiction of the federal courts in exchange for achieving the six broad objectives listed in the Constitution`s preamble.1FootnoteSee 2 U.S. (Dall.) 419, 463 (1793) (Wilson, J., with agreement) (Therefore, in order to form a more perfect union to establish justice, In order to ensure peace of mind, common defense and the blessings of freedom, these persons, including the Georgian people, have ordered and instituted this Constitution. This Constitution confers legislative, executive and judicial powers.); Id., pp. 474–75 (Jay, C.J., agreed) (listing the six purposes of the Constitution and concluding that a state could be sued in federal court by citizens of another state). Similarly, in Martin v. Hunter`s Lessee, the Court relied on the preamble to conclude that the Constitution allowed it to exercise appellate jurisdiction over final judgments of a state`s highest court when deciding questions of federal law, and noted that the Constitution was established by the people of the United States. the latter, in turn, had the right to prohibit states from exercising powers inconsistent with the purposes of the General Covenant.2Footnote 14 U.S.
(1 Wheat.) 304, 324–25 (1816). And in M`Culloch v. Maryland, Chief Justice Marshall repeated these themes in upholding the constitutionality of a national bank, citing the words of the preamble when he argued for the supremacy of popular law over state laws.3Footnote 17 United States (1 wheat.) 316, 403–05 (1819) (Government proceeds directly from the people; it is “ordained and ordained in the name of the people” and is declared ordained “to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, to secure peace of mind, and to secure the blessings of liberty for themselves and their posterity.” The consent of States in their sovereign capacity is implicit when they convene a Convention and thus present that instrument to the people.). Although during the first century of the nation`s existence, the Court referred to the wording of the preamble to interpret the Constitution, it does not appear that the Court ever gave legal weight to the preamble alone. Chief Justice John Jay, who served as a district judge, concluded that a preamble to a legal document cannot be used to overturn other texts contained therein. Instead, introductory language can be used to resolve two competing readings of the text.4Footnote Jones v. Walker, 13 F. Cas. 1059, 1065 (V.C.D.
1800) (Jay, C.J.) (A preamble cannot invalidate a provision; however, if it expresses the intention of the legislator and the form of the act, it allows us, in the case of two arrangements, to adopt the one that best suits its intention and design.) Similarly, Justice Joseph Story argued in his comments that while the preamble generally provides an opportunity to explain the nature, scope and application of the powers created by the Constitution, it can never be used to extend the powers vested in the general government or any of its departments.5See I Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States § 462 (1833). High school journalists tell what the promises in the preamble to the Constitution mean to them. This video can be used as inspiration in a courtroom, classroom or community program. It can also serve as an effective discussion stimulus to stimulate conversation about the Constitution. In recent years, political powers have continued to turn to the preamble, not so much to answer specific legal questions, but rather to discuss general constitutional norms. In fact, in a 2007 speech to the House of Representatives on the modern view of the preamble, New Jersey Representative Scott Garrett described the preface to the Constitution as a condensed version of what the founders wanted in the Constitution and for the nation.23Footnote 153 Cong. Rec. H2722 (daily edition of March 20, 2007) (statement by Representative Garrett). It was in this spirit that President Ronald Reagan described the Constitution`s preamble and its opening words, We, the People, as the embodiment of America`s genius, hope, and promise forever and for all humanity.24FootnoteProclamation No.