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inflicted upon a person, without a trial. In English legislation the legal heirs could not inherit the estate of the attainted person, but it was forfeited to the Crown. Congress is expressly forbidden to pass any such bills (J *).
..An ex post facto law is literally one which is made after an act is done. But it is in fact a law that makes punishable as a crime, an act that was not criminal when done. Any law that increases the punishment of a crime after it has been committed, becomes also an ex post facto law as regards the punishment of the accused persons. If, for example, a law should be passed requiring all persons now charged with stealing, to be imprisoned for life, if found guilty, such law would be ex post facto; and the persons convicted could not be made to suffer its penalty, because the crime, when committed, was punishable by a shorter term of imprisonment. Congress cannot pass such laws (J ').
Proportional Taxation. If Congress levies any direct tax upon the people it must be apportioned among the States according to their population (J 4). The census taken every tenth year enumerates the people. A direct tax is one levied upon the very person who is likely to bear the burden. A capitation tax or poll tax is a tax levied upon each head or person. It has recently been decided that a tax based upon incomes is a direct tax, and must be distributed among the States in proportion to their population. An Income Tax Amendment to the Constitution is now (1910) before the States for ratification.
Export Duties.—No export duties can be laid by Congress. No law for taxing exports could be devised which would operate equally upon the interests of the different States. In some States the chief product is grain; in others, cotton; and in others, manufactures. How could Congress fix a just tax
upon the several articles? If an export tax of twenty cents per bushel was levied upon wheat, what would be the just tax upon a pound of cotton ? Such problems would be impossible of adjustment among the representatives of the various States. The same clause also makes entirely free the internal trade and commerce of the country (J 5).
Impartial Commercial Laws.-Congress can pass no law giving a preference to the ports of one State over those of another. Vessels bound to or from one State cannot be obliged to enter, clear, or pay duties in another (J ).
To enter a ship at a port is to notify the proper officers of her arrival, and to submit at the customhouse the invoices of her cargo. To clear a ship at a customhouse is to show and obtain the papers required by law, to secure permission to leave the port.
All ships engaged in carrying goods and passengers between ports in the United States must be American ships, and these must be built in American shipyards. Most of our foreign commerce is carried in foreign-built vessels, since both foreign and American ships may engage in such commerce, and ships are built for less money abroad than in the United States.
Appropriations.—No money shall be drawn from the treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law. This clause places the control of the public money in the hands. of the representatives of the people, and beyond the reach of the Executive or any other officer. At the same time, if Congress becomes extravagant, the President can guard the people's money by vetoing appropriation bills. Congress, at every session, passes many appropriation bills prepared with great attention to detail, and the annual expenditure of money for the expenses of the United States Government amounts to many millions of dollars.
Every month a statement and account of the receipts and expenditures, and surplus on hand is issued. Such financial reports are made by the Secretary of the Treasury, and published by order of Congress, in order that the people may know for what purpose the public money is expended (J?).
Titles of Nobility.—Any mere title of nobility could not add to the political power of any person under our Constitution; but, since it is proper that there should be equality of rank as well as of political rights, Congress is prohibited from granting titles of nobility. These would be out of character and corrupting in tendency in a republican country. It is further provided that no officer of the United States can, without the consent of Congress, accept any present, office, or title from any king, prince, or foreign state (J 8). Powers Denied to the States.
The successful working of the National system of government renders it necessary that certain powers be denied to the States. No State can enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; coin money, issue paper money, or make anything 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 (K ?).
No State, without the consent of Congress, can lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except such as are necessary to pay the costs of inspection service (K2). Nor can any State, without the consent of Congress, levy any tonnage tax on ships, keep troops or ships of war in time of
peace, or enter into any agreement or compact with another State or a foreign power. No State can engage in war, unless it is actually invaded or in such immediate danger of invasion as will not admit of delay (K 3).
Some of the prohibitions named above have also been
placed upon Congress, and there can be no good reason, therefore, for granting the powers to the States. Uniformity in legislation is secured, and the States are prevented from exercising harmful power. The reasons for these prohibitions are manifest, and any extended remarks upon them unnecessary. A very famous lawsuit, the Dartmouth College case, arose under that part of this clause (K 1) which forbids any State to pass a law impairing the obligation of contracts. In 1816 the Legislature of New Hampshire passed an act to reorganize the college under a new charter, which would of course annul the charter previously granted by the State. The trustees, with Daniel Webster as counsel, appealed the case to the Supreme Court of the United States. Chief Justice Marshall delivered one of his great opinions in which he held that the college charter was a contract within the meaning of the Constitution, and that the acts of the Legislature impaired this contract, and were therefore void. This decision brought every charter granted by a State within the scope of the Constitution, and extended the jurisdiction of the highest court more than any other judgment ever rendered by that court. Since then the precedent which it established has continued to exert an enormous influence.
When was slavery introduced into the United States?
Define habeas corpus. When has this writ been suspended? Who has the power to suspend habeas corpus ? Why may habeas corpus be suspended in time of war?
What is an ex post facto law?
Discuss in a general manner the powers of Congress. How are appropriations made by Congress?
Before money can be taken from the Treasury, what is necessary?
What is a treaty? How are treaties made? Name some celebrated treaties. Give the main points of a recent treaty.
Name five subjects upon which the States can make no laws.
Explain the terms, to enter a ship and to clear a ship at the customhouse.
Describe the Dartmouth College case regarding the obligation of contracts.
Can a State make a treaty with another State or nation? Give reasons for your answer.
What is an extradition treaty ?
What prohibitions apply to both the Federal and the State governments? Arrange all the prohibitions in tabular form according to the rights of individuals, the rights of States, and the security of the National Government.