Generally speaking, in the construction of the Constitution the well known distinctions between latent and patent ambiguities, and between the use of extrinsic and intrinsic evidence apply. Where the language of the instrument is itself indefinite or is such that more than one meaning may, by grammatical construction, be drawn from its terms, the courts base their determinations upon the language and provisions found within the four corners of the instrument, and without resort to extrinsic evidence. The governing point is as to what is actually written. If a given power may rationally, logically, and grammatically be construed as granted by a given provision, then it is of no countervailing force to adduce the fact that such was not the intention of those by whom the instrument of government was established. Thus, six years after the adoption of our Constitution, the judicial power of the federal courts was construed to extend to a case in which a State was defendant in a suit brought by a private individual, and support for such construction was undoubtedly supplied by the written word. That such, however, was not the intention of those by whom the Constitution was framed and ratified is quite certain, as was demonstrated by the promptness and unanimity with which the Eleventh Amendment was adopted, preventing a future similar construction.

In United States v. Alger (152 U. S. 384; 14 Sup. Ct. Rep. 635; 38 L. ed. 488) the court say: "As the meaning of the statute as applied to these cues, appears to this court to be perfectly clear, no practice inconsistent with that meaning can have any effect."

In Fairbanks v. United States (181 U. S. 283; 21 Sup. Ct. Rep. 648; 45 L. ed. 862) the constructive force to be given to legislative and executive practice is reviewed at length. With reference to the principle that the judiciary cannot be conclusively bound thereby the court say: "From this resume of our decisions it clearly appears that practical construction is relied upon only in cases of doubt."