|On This Site:
Does the United States Constitution Provide Environmental Protection? -by Charlie Ogle. An Article giving a textual analysis of the Preamble, arguing the relevance of the posterity clause to environmental issues.
The Stewardship Doctrine: Intergenerational Justice in the United States Constitution -by John Davidson. An Article examining the historical antecedents and philosophical context of the work by the Founding Fathers, with particular attention to Intergenerational issues raised by them in the Preamble, U.S. Constitution, and related State documents.
Cites to case law relating to the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution- Case citations
Journal Articles, etc. relating to the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution - Articles relating to the Preamble.
The Constitution is most often discussed in terms of what is has to say about specific, narrow, questions. We hear about the First Amendment and free speech, the Second Amendment and gun control, the Fifth Amendment and takings. Often the messages and debate are orchestrated by special interests who may have an incentive to focus the discussion-- and the publics attention -- on a few words.
The Constitutional Law Foundation seeks to encourage a broader discussion of the general purpose and intent of the entire document. Start at the beginning is often good advice. We encourage those who wish to understand the Constitution to do just that: start at the beginning.
The Constitution itself starts with a Preamble, which indicates the general purpose for which the people ordained and established the Constitution [Jacobson v. Mass. 197 US 11 (1904)]. What better place could there be to start looking for the essence of the Constitution?
There is another beginning-- the social, cultural, and spiritual attitudes of those who wrote and adopted the document. Only by trying to understand these beginnings can we understand the Constitution. This site is dedicated to helping you start at the beginning as you explore the Constitution. We hope that the debate about the details will continue. We should all try to understand the first, second and fifth amendments-- and the other narrow slices of the Constitution that current debates center on. But we must go beyond the details - the Articles and Amendments can not be understood in isolation. They must be considered in light of the general purpose of the Constitution, and an understanding of the beliefs of its framers and adopters.
The Preamble of the United States Constitution states: "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, 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 for the United States of America." In this statement of the purpose of the United Stated Constitution, and thus of our Government, we have an explanation of 1) who established the Government: "We the People" 2) for what purpose we established that government: "to form a more perfect union.... and secure the Blessings of Liberty" and 3) the beneficiaries of our action: "ourselves and our Posterity." There can be no doubt that each word of this statement was carefully chosen, and that each has a purpose. [Richfield Oil v. State Board, 329 U.S. 69 (1946)] The fact that the Constitution explicitly names "our Posterity" as a beneficiary of government action can neither be dismissed nor ignored. The framers and ratifiers of the Constitution clearly intended to create a sustainable society, and instructed their government to respect that fact. Unfortunately, "We the People" soon forgot this remarkable obligation to create a sustainable society, and the Constitution's "Posterity clause" slipped into oblivion. The Constitutional Law Foundation intends to end the neglect that the "posterity clause" has suffered, and to start a fight for recognition of the Government's obligations to consider the impacts of its actions on Posterity. It is time to make the Constitution's "posterity clause" the subject of a national debate.