AskDefine | Define preamble

Dictionary Definition

preamble n : a preliminary introduction to a statute or constitution (usually explaining its purpose) v : make a preliminary introduction, usually to a formal document

User Contributed Dictionary



From preambule (French: préambule, from praeambulum, from praeambulare


  • a UK /ˈpɹɪiˌæmbl̩/, 1=/"pri:%

Extensive Definition

A preamble is an introductory statement or preliminary explanation as to the purpose of the document and the principles behind its philosophy. The term is particularly applied to the opening paragraph(s) of a statute, which recite historical facts which may be pertinent to the issue being discussed. It is often confused with the long title or the enacting formula of a law.

Legal effect

While preambles may seem just like unimportant introductory matter, their words may have effects that may not have been foreseen by their drafters. For instance, it is on the basis of the preamble of the French Constitution, mentioning the solemn regard of the French Republic towards the principles set forth in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen that the Constitutional Council has declared certain laws to be unconstitutional (the first case being decision 71-44DC). In Canada as well, the preamble to the Constitution Act, 1867 was cited by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Provincial Judges Reference, to increase guarantees to judicial independence. In India, the Supreme Court frequently rules unconstitutional amendments which violate the Basic Structure of the Constitution, especially its Preamble. Judges have argued that the necessary-and-proper clause allows the U.S. federal government to act freely in any of the areas of the preamble to the United States Constitution, a point challenged repeatedly by their Originalist colleagues.
For this reason, the redaction of the preamble of the proposed European Constitution, in 2002, has caused much controversy because of the possible inclusion of references to the Christian heritage of Europe; could such a sentence be used in the future from a legal point of view? Likewise, in Australia in 1999, a referendum on whether to adopt a new preamble came with a promise that the preamble, if adopted, could not be enforceable by the courts, as some were concerned the preamble would be interpreted and applied by judges questionably.

Other meanings


preamble in German: Präambel
preamble in Estonian: Preambul
preamble in Spanish: Preámbulo
preamble in French: Préambule (droit)
preamble in Polish: Preambuła
preamble in Russian: Преамбула
preamble in Slovak: Preambula
preamble in Ukrainian: Преамбула

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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