ZeraLand, USA

On the Nature of "Nation"

United States Constitution – Article I sec 10

Section 10 lists restrictions on the States.

Section 10

(Clause 1)

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.

The power to make treaties is an Art II sec 2 cl 2 federal authority prohibited to the States. Nor are the States allowed to make Alliances or “private” Confederations with other states or countries.

Granting letters of Marque and Reprisal is an Art I sec 8 cl 11 federal authority denied to the States.

The power to coin money is an Art I sec 8 cl 5 federal power denied to the States.

No State shall:

States cannot “emit Bills of Credit“, meaning they cannot pass IOUs.

States cannot make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts. This has become a contentious issue. Some conservatives want to use this to get rid of Federal Reserve Notes – and the Federal Reserve. But then they want to turn around and pass paper based on gold and silver coins. They want people to write checks from accounts based on these coins, which negates their argument for getting rid of Federal Reserve Notes in the first place. It is also something prohibited to the states – by this clause. Checks, money orders, credit cards, debit cards, all of it would have to go away. Economic apocalypse.

These are things that are also forbidden to the Federal government:

  • pass any Bill of Attainder,
  • ex post facto Law,
  • or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts,
  • or grant any Title of Nobility.

(Clause 2)

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection Laws: and the net 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 Control of the Congress.

The states cannot tax imports and exports to generate revenues.

(Clause 3)

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.

Without the permission of Congress:

The states cannot charge for shipping through their waterways.

The states cannot maintain warships or a standing army in times of peace, or wage war on their own except in defense of invasion.

The states cannot make legal compacts with other states or foreign nations.

The Constitution does not allow the states to form subgroups of states.

<== Article I sec 9
Article II ==>



February 6, 2012 Posted by | Article I, Const. Review, Const. Second Reading | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

United States Constitution – Article I sec 9

While section 8 was explicitly targeted at Congress, section 9 has no similar language. In short, these constraints are not explicitly limited to Congress and the federal government in general. Further, section 8 is primarily a list of authorities while section 9 is a list of restrictions.

Section 9

(Clause 1)

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.

  • Slavery cannot be abolished before 1808.
  • The government can charge no more than $10/slave for importation.

This clause has become a moot point, with only historical value. It is a relic of the negotiations and compromises that took place in writing the Constitution.

(Clause 2)

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.

So what is “Habeas Corpus”?

A writ of habeas corpus directs a person, usually a prison warden, to produce the prisoner and justify the prisoner’s detention. If the prisoner argues successfully that the incarceration is in violation of a constitutional right, the court may order the prisoner’s release. Habeas corpus relief also may be used to obtain custody of a child or to gain the release of a detained person who is insane, is a drug addict, or has an infectious disease. Usually, however, it is a response to imprisonment by the criminal justice system.

The Free Dictionary

or, in other words (literally):

A writ of habeas corpus is a judicial mandate to a prison official ordering that an inmate be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he should be released from custody. A habeas corpus petition is a petition filed with a court by a person who objects to his own or another’s detention or imprisonment. The petition must show that the court ordering the detention or imprisonment made a legal or factual error.

Habeas Corpus

or more simply put:

Habeas corpus is a Latin term meaning “you have the body”. It is a writ (court order) which directs the law enforcement officials who have custody of a prisoner to appear in court with the prisoner in order to determine the legality of the prisoner’s confinement.

Habeas Corpus Law & Legal Definition

A writ of habeas corpus is a summons with the force of a court order, addressed to the custodian (a prison official for example) demanding that a prisoner be taken before the court, and that the custodian present proof of authority, allowing the court to determine if the custodian has lawful authority to detain the person. If the custodian does not have authority to detain the prisoner, then he must be released from custody.

When someone gets arrested and locked up, someone can demand that the incarcerating agent prove that the incarceration is lawful except for two specific conditions:

  1. there is a rebellion in progress and the public safety would be threatened
  2. there is an invasion in progress and the public safety would be threatened

Essentially, it means whenever the government loses or may lose control of “the streets”, when the continuation of the government is threatened.

(Clause 3)

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

A bill of attainder (also known as an act of attainder or writ of attainder) is an act of a legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime and punishing them without benefit of a judicial trial.

An ex post facto law is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences (or status) of actions committed or relationships that existed prior to the enactment of the law.

(Clause 4)

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

This is the part that banned an income tax until the 16th amendment was adopted. Before that, a direct tax would have to be based on population, not income. Very regressive.

(Clause 5)

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

I believe the original intent was that federal revenues would be derived from foreign trade, not domestic trade between states. The concern being that the states would not be treated equally, given the variations in trade goods from each state. Some states were more industrial, some more agricultural, and each had a unique mix of natural resources. Still do. Applying the same Tax or Duty on all states would not guarantee equal treatment. The original free-trade zone.

(Clause 6)

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 favoritism for states or ports. No interference, between states, of shipping.

(Clause 7)

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.

All expenditures must be agreed to by the legislative process. The expenditures must also be made public.

(Clause 8)

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 Founders rejected both the institutions and titles of aristocracy, and prohibited the same.

<== Article I sec 8
Article I sec 10 ==>


January 12, 2012 Posted by | Article I, Const. Review, Const. Second Reading | , , , , , | Leave a comment

United States Constitution – Article I sec 8

This section lists (enumerates) powers explicitly assigned to Congress. Some are also mentioned elsewhere in the Constitution. Some are more specific than others. This is not the complete list.

Section 8

(clause 1)

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

Congress has the power to raise revenue by imposing and collecting:

  • Taxes,
  • Duties,
  • Imposts,
  • and Excises.

Note that Taxes were not included in the uniformity requirement. As the word “Excises” is followed by a comma instead of a semicolon, I take it to mean that this power to raise revenues is only for the purpose of:

  • Paying the Debts of the United States.
  • Funding the common Defense of the United States.
  • Funding the general Welfare of the United States.

The big question here is just what falls under the umbrella of “general welfare”?

(clause 2)

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

Congress must authorize the borrowing of money. Pretty straightforward stuff. Of course, it comes with the implied mandate to maintain the credit-worthiness of the United States, and to repay borrowed money. The Framers would have known, they had the debt accumulated from the Revolutionary War to repay. One of the reasons for a strong central government was the inability of a weak central government to repay that debt.
Continue reading

October 23, 2011 Posted by | Article I, Const. Review, Const. Second Reading | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

United States Constitution – Article I sec 7

Section 7

(clause 1)

All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

The House of Representatives is the House most closely tied to the citizens. Direct election and a two-year “short leash” make them the most accountable to the voters. As such, they are the ones responsible for initiating the raising of revenues. This means Taxes, Duties, Imposts, Excises, and borrowing. This does not mean spending Bills must originate in the House of Representatives.

(clause 2)

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Continue reading

September 9, 2011 Posted by | Article I, Const. Review, Const. Second Reading | , , , , , | Leave a comment

United States Constitution – Article I sec 6

Section 6

(clause 1 – AKA the Speech or Debate Clause)

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

  • The Members of Congress are compensated for their service. Note: compensation does not specifically mean salary, it can also include things like health care and official expenses.
  • The manor of compensation must be defined (and therefore limited) by law.
  • The money for their pay comes from the Treasury, not their respective State.
  • Members of Congress enjoy a degree of immunity from arrest while attending a session of Congress. This is not the same as Governmental Tort Immunity or Sovereign immunity. This is a recognition that arresting a Member of Congress while Congress is in session, interfering with the Member’s ability to do the business of Congress, could have national consequences that far exceed the value of immediately arresting someone for a misdemeanor offense. It also prevents the President from arresting Members of Congress in order to manipulate a particular vote. When contemplating the meaning of “during their Attendance” and “going to and returning from the same”, consider the state of travel and communication at the time.
  • The ability to speak in an uninhibited manor is necessary to political debate. As such, Members of Congress cannot have their words or intentions questioned outside of chambers. Disagreement is to be expected, but threats, intimidation, and defamation are forbidden.

Continue reading

September 8, 2011 Posted by | Article I, Const. Review, Const. Second Reading | , , , , , | Leave a comment

United States Constitution – Article I sec 5

Section 5 describes who sets the rules and procedures for each House.

Section 5

(clause 1)

Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

  • Each House the final judge of the election of their members; whether they were legitimately elected and meet the qualifications.
  • A chamber of Congress cannot do business without a simple majority of the members present, except:
    • for the business of adjournment or
    • to compel its members to show up to do business.
  • Each house can determine the methods and penalties that can be used to compel attendance.

Continue reading

September 6, 2011 Posted by | Article I, Const. Review, Const. Second Reading | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

United States Constitution – Article I sec 4

Section 4

(Clause 1)

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

The state legislatures determine the details of holding an election, but Congress can overrule them – except for where to select a Senator. I assume that the last little detail was due to the state legislature selecting the Senators, which would make this an oversight in the 17th amendment, which changes the selection of Senators to a direct popular vote.

(Clause 2)

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

I find this to be one of the more curious clauses.

Congress must meet at least once every year, starting on the first Monday in December. What makes this so curious is that section 2 of the 20th amendment changes the starting date. This clause states that Congress can change the date through legislation, which means that an amendment was not needed to make the change. Granted, the 20th amendment is about presidential term limits and the succession, but they did throw in a change to the starting date for a Session of Congress. Furthermore, they kept the “unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day” wording. This tells me that the people who wrote the 20th amendment understood that this part of the amendment could have been done in statute. Curious.

<= Article I sec 3
Article I sec 5 =>


September 5, 2011 Posted by | Article I, Const. Review, Const. Second Reading | , , , , | Leave a comment

Constitution of the United States – Article I sec 3

Section 3 deals with the composition of the Senate:

Section 3

(clause 1)

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

Where the House represents each State according to its population, the Senate represents the States on an equal basis. This keeps the more populous states from drowning the voice of the less populous states.

Senators are also elected for a longer term than Representatives. This allows for the greater accumulation of experience among Senators. More expertise is asked and expected of them.

With equal representation between states, and being chosen by the state Legislature, Senators are apparently intended to be the professionals of Congress and represent their states at the governmental level rather than directly represent the citizens.

(clause 2)

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

Senators are divided into three classes, which are elected for overlapping terms. This allows for greater stability in the Senate than might be realized in the House.
Continue reading

September 1, 2011 Posted by | Article I, Const. Review, Const. Second Reading | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Constitution of the United States – Article I Sec 2

Section 2 deals with the composition of the House of Representatives:

Section 2

(Clause 1)

The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

Suffrage (voter eligibility) for electing a Member of the House of Representatives is the same as eligibility for voting to elect a member of the equivalent state chamber. In other words, the states determine voter eligibility for electing a Representative. Representatives have two-year terms.

(Clause 2)

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

I admit that when I got to the second “who shall not”, I got lost in the double-negatives for a moment. I even went back to the image of the written document to verify the wording. The tautology can be tricky, so in plainer wording:
Someone cannot be a Representative unless they:

  • have attained at least twenty-five years of age; and
  • have been a citizen of the United States for at least seven years; and
  • are, at the time of election, a resident in the state in which elected

Besides a bit of confusion, another consequence of the double-negative is that this is not an exhaustive list of qualifications. Other requirements can be added, but these must also be met. For example: if a state decided that its representatives must have resided in the state at least ten years, or be a landowner, it would not violate this clause.
Continue reading

August 30, 2011 Posted by | Article I, Const. Review, Const. Second Reading, Constitution | , , , , | Leave a comment

Constitution of the United States – Article I Sec 1

Section 1

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

The authority to write new laws and amend old ones is assigned to Congress. Congress is divided into two chambers: a Senate, and a House of Representatives. This seems pretty simple and straightforward, but there are a few lines of thought that bear upon it.

Line-Item Veto

The Line Item Veto Act of 1996 (104th Congress, S.4/H.R.3136) gave Clinton42 the power to delete portions of appropriation bills that Congress had agreed to.


 (a) IN GENERAL– Notwithstanding the provisions of part B of title X of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, and subject to the provisions of this section, the President may rescind all or part of any dollar amount of any discretionary budget authority specified in an appropriation Act or conference report or joint explanatory statement accompanying a conference report on the Act, or veto any targeted tax benefit which is subject to the terms of this Act if the President–

 (1) determines that–

(A) such rescission or veto would help reduce the Federal budget deficit;
(B) such rescission or veto will not impair any essential Government functions; and
(C) such rescission or veto will not harm the national interest; and

 (2) notifies the Congress of such rescission or veto by a special message not later than ten calendar days (not including Sundays) after the date of enactment of an appropriation Act providing such budget authority or a revenue or reconciliation Act containing a targeted tax benefit.

The authority was aimed specifically at budget bills, but I do not consider that relevant to the Constitutionality of it. It was authored by republicans and supported primarily by them. It was a cuts-only approach that overwhelmingly favored conservative ideology, and I am profoundly glad that we never found out how a republican President would abuse such power.

A Presidential line-item veto would be an authority that just begs to be abused.

It was ruled unconstitutional in 1998, but the point I want to make here is that it gave the President a legislative power. A power specifically allocated to Congress by the Constitution.

Negotiation and compromise are essential to democracy. It is the difference between democracy and totalitarianism. For the President to be able to modify the compromise reached by the Congress invalidates the entire process and corrupts democracy.

Signing Statements

Presidential Signing Statements have been around for a long time, but Bush43 used it ruthlessly to functionally alter legislation to his liking – thus making them a de facto exercise of legislative power. It represents, in my opinion, the same corruption of the democratic process represented by the line-item veto. The American Bar Association reached the same conclusion. Signing Statements have also been used to infringe on the authority of the Judicial Branch.

Delegation of Legislative responsibilities to the Administrative Branch.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 deeply convoluted the legislative process by granting the President authority to raise Revenue through borrowing. It then turns around and allows Congress to challenge the actions they authorized, forcing a veto or a default. This was a purely partisan political move intended to shift responsibility (and political backlash) from Congress to the President. It was a contemptible perversion of the constitutional separation of powers.

That’s a lot to read into a one-liner.

<= Preamble
Article I, scc 2 =>


August 23, 2011 Posted by | Article I, Const. Review, Const. Second Reading, Constitution | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: