Preamble Not A Grant of Power

Called Unto Liberty, J. Reuben Clark Jr., 20th Century Sermons

May I emphasize that the mere fact that a matter might be of concern everywhere in the States was not sufficient in the wisdom of the Fathers to bring the matter within Federal jurisdiction. To place it there the matter must be one falling within the purposes or functions of the Federal government as declared in the Preamble of the Constitution, which ran:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.

And may I say here that over and over again this Preamble has been held by the Supreme Court of the United States to be a setting out of the purposes of the Federal Government and not a source of its jurisdiction and powers.


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Source: J. Reuben Clark Jr., Feb 22, 1935. J. Reuben Clark Jr. (1871–1961), served as a mem­ber of the First Pres­i­dency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1931–1961. Prior to his full-time church ser­vice he was assis­tant solic­i­tor to the State Depart­ment, worked in the Attor­ney General’s office, Under Sec­re­tary of State, the author of the clas­sic study, the “Clark Mem­o­ran­dum on the Mon­roe Doc­trine” and U.S. ambas­sador to Mex­ico. Among those who knew his work best, J. Reuben Clark was rec­og­nized as the fore­most con­sti­tu­tional scholar of the 20th Century.