Brushing Up On The Constitution (part 5)

Previous entries in the series can be found here: (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four).

This entry will finish Article One of the Constitution, dealing with the limitations placed upon the congress, and the limitations placed upon the states.

Article One, Section Nine:

A1.S9.C1: The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight; but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.

Congress cannot prohibit the importation of slaves or other individual into any state that was signatory to the Constitution until the year 1808. However, it can tax the slave trade at a rate of up to $10 per person brought in to the country.

According to the article on Wikipedia, Congress did put such a prohibition into effect at the earliest possible opportunity, January 1st, 1808.

A1.S9.C2: The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

The congress cannot suspend habeas corpus except in specific circumstances: rebellion or invasion of the country.

A1.S9.C3: No bill of attainder, or ex post facto law, shall be passed.

Congress cannot write a law declaring a person or persons guilty and punish them without the benefit of a trial. Nor can it create laws which apply retroactively, whether to make legal something which was illegal, or vice versa.

A1.S9.C4: No capitation or other direct tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

A reiteration of Article One, Section Two, Clause Three, regarding how taxes were to be apportioned amongst the states. Note again that this is purely in relation to population, not in relation to the income of any members of that population.

A1.S9.C5: No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State. No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one State over those of another: Nor shall vessels bound to or from one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay duties, in another.

Congress cannot lay a tax on items exported from the states. Any laws it creates which apply to revenue generation from ports must be applied equally to all ports in all states. In addition, it cannot tax ships from one state when they enter another state.

A1.S9.C6: No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.

Money cannot be withdrawn from the treasury except if it is required by an appropriations bill. The income and expenditures of the government must be published as a matter of public record.

A1.S9.C7: No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no person holding any office of profit or trust under them shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office or title, or any kind whatever from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

The United States will not confer titles of nobility (though, sometimes it seems like such titles as Congressman and Senator have reached that level, doesn't it?). Also, no public servant is allowed to accept gifts or titles from any foreign dignitary or power without the consent of the congress.

Article One, Section Ten:

A1.S10.C1: No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make any thing but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.

This places particular limits on the states which join the union. Many of these are either reserved powers of the federal government, or are limitations also placed on the federal government. Specifically, the states cannot enter into treaties, alliances, or other confederations (reserved to the federal government); grant letters of marque and reprisal (reserved to the congress in A1.S8.C11); coin money (reserved to the federal government in A1.S8.C5); emit bills of credit (also A1.S8.C5); make anything but gold or silver coin a legal form of payment for debts (yet again, A1.S8.C5); pass a bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or any law which impairs private contracts (the first two restrictions are shared with congress in A1.S9.C3.); and finally, the states, like the congress, cannot grant titles of nobility. (There goes my dream of being Duke of the Western Rivers, I suppose...)

A1.S10.C2: No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws; and the new produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any State, on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and controul of the Congress. No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another State, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.

The states are restricted from taxing imports and exports, as well as unduly delaying them other than as absolutely necessary for inspections. Any money that the states gain from taxing imports and exports must be turned over to the treasury of the United States. Also, congress has oversight over any such laws regarding this taxation as the states happen to enact. The power to maintain a standing military is reserved to the federal government, not the states, as is the power to enter into treaties with foreign powers.

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