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The Constitution as an Instrument of Public Welfare, 26 American Labor Legislation Review 103 (1936)


THE very phrase "The Constitution as an Instrument of Public Welfare" would seem an anomaly. It implies that a clash in values can arise between the Constitution of the United States and that thing called "public welfare." Now it was an axiom of the undergraduate political science courses to which I was exposed, that the Constitution is an instrument of government and the object of government is to serve the "public welfare." So the fact that there can be a clash between the document itself and the thing it serves is per se a challenge. That the question is raised at all seems to me to indicate that we are face to face with one of our most significant problems. It is one of the many great problems that have arisen in what that philosopher Mr. Thomas Jefferson would call "the course of human events." And due to the fact that the world in which we live and the ideas within our heads belong to the twentieth century, there may be a bit of the taint of our own times in some of the contemporary discussion of the Constitution. As a way of approach to the subject I wish to touch upon each of three things: First, the Constitution as a document; second, the Constitution as an institution; and thirdly, Constitutionality as a way of thought.

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