United States Constitution

PREAMBLE : We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution



Article 1, Section 9

Text of Article 1, Section 9:
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.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.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

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.

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

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, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

The 'Travis Translation' of Article 1, Section 9:
Clause 1: The slave trade cannot be banned by Congress until at least 1808, but a tax of up to $10 can be put on imported slaves. [Slavery was banned by the 13th Amendment.]

Clause 2: Rights of people in jail to make the government show why they are in jail can be taken away only if there is a rebellion, or if the United States is invaded by a foreign power. Clause 3: Congress cannot pass a law to declare someone guilty of a crime. Criminal laws passed by Congress can be applied only from the time they are passed.

Clause 4: Congress must tax according to the number of citizens there are in the country, according to the Census. [The 16th Amendment changed this so Congress could charge and collect taxes any way they wanted.]

Clause 5: Congress cannot tax things sold from one state to another state.

Clause 6: Congress cannot prefer one port over another, and no ships from one state can get taxed for using another state’s port.

Clause 7: No money can be spent without Congress passing an Appropriations law, and they must publish a regular Statement of the Treasury Account from time to time.

Clause 8: Congress cannot give anyone any title of nobility (King, Queen, Prince, Lord, etc.), and no officer of the United States can accept any title, office or payment of any kind from any other country.

After listing the various powers that Congress has, the Constitution turns to powers that Congress does not have. First, Congress may not ban the importation of slaves into the United States until the set date of 1808. Second, Congress may not unnecessarily ban the so-called “writ of habeas corpus,” or the ability of prisoners to inquire after the legality of their imprisonment. Third, Congress cannot convict a person without a trial nor prosecute someone for a crime committed before that action even became a crime. Fourth, Congress cannot directly tax the people unless those taxes are proportion with the populations of their respective states (see the 16th Amendment). Fifth, Congress cannot place a tax on goods going from one state to another like a tariff between two countries. Sixth, Congress cannot make laws showing a preference to one state’s port over another. Seventh, Congress cannot spend money unless a law has been passed allowing it to spend money, which must be made public regularly. Eighth, Congress cannot give a person any title of so-called “nobility,” the inherited titles that stemmed from medieval Europe and continued in the United Kingdom, nor could a U.S. citizen accept any such titles or other positions or honors from other countries without Congress’ consent (this last provision has been haphazardly applied from one extreme to the other: a constitutional amendment was passed by Congress in 1810 and never ratified by enough states that would have automatically revoked the citizenship of anyone accepting such a foreign honor, while other times in American history Congress has explicitly allowed the acceptance of such honors).