Invalid Amendment by Ruling

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The Jacobson case is the classic example of a decision that invalidly amends Constitutional text.

It devastates the courts' ability to uphold the public's political rights. 

And you don’t have to be an attorney or scholar to understand it.  


It was part of a debate conducted back and forth in rulings and statutes in an era called the Lochner era after a characteristic ruling.

Jacobson has been relied on as precedent and has never been overruled but its revisionism has remained controversial,

to put it mildly. 


From Jacobson v Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905):


"Although that preamble indicates the general purpose for which the people ordained and established the Constitution,

it has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the United States, or on any of its departments.

Such powers embrace only those expressly granted in the body of the Constitution,

and such as may be implied from those so granted.

Although, therefore, one of the objects of the Constitution

was to secure the blessings of liberty to all under the sovereign jurisdiction and authority of the United States,

no power can be exerted to that end by the United States, unless, apart from the Preamble,

it is found in some express delegation of power, or in some power to be properly implied therefrom." 


The decision invalidly amends the Constitution.

It’s not a matter of interpretation because it removes the full force of law from text

and so removes that text from the Constitution, which interpretation may not do.

Jacobson allows the Preamble to summarize the purposes of the text, with no force of law to ordain or establish anything.

But this does not account for the words “We, the people ...do ordain and establish”.

Nowhere else does the Constitution provide that the people ordain it as a law or by its action as a charter,

ordain the United States of America.

Neither the Preamble nor "the body of the Constitution" is the source of powers.

Only the people are the source of, confer, grant, or delegate powers.

The people confer every power in the Constitution at once by the enacting statement

"We the people...do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America".