Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

articles, congress have some special ones, which cannot be classed under a general head; such as that of establishing post-offices and post-roads, granting exclusive privileges to authors and inventors for their writings and discoveries and prohibiting the importation of slaves, which last power they have only exercised since the year 1808, the constitution having prohibited them from doing it before that time. The power to make a uniform bankrupt law might have been classed among these; but we have thought that it came more properly under the head of "Commerce.” Congress are also empowered to establish a uniform rule for the naturalization of foreigners. This power has been considered as vested in the general government exclusively of the -states, which the required uniformity appears necessarily to imply. By the existing law, five years residence in the United States are required, before an alien can be naturalized, and he must have declared, two years before, his intention to become a citizen. He must also be proved to be a person of good moral character, and take an oath to support the constitution of the United States, coupled with an express renunciation of his former allegiance. Naturalization may be obtained in the state courts, as well as in those of federal jurisdiction; but it can only be done in execution of a law of congress. There are states where aliens cannot hold real property, which often makes it necessary for them to be naturalized, as by that means they become entitled to all the privileges and rights of natural born

citizens, except that they cannot be elected to the offices of president and vice-president. This relic of the feudal system, however, has been abolished in some states, and mitigated in others, and will probably soon entirely disappear from our codes.

SECTION 9.-Protection of the States and Guarantee of Repub

lican Government.

The United States guarantee to every state in the Union, a republican form of government. By this expression we would understand a government "securing civil liberty and equal rights, and founded on the representative, to the exclusion of the hereditary principle.” This, at least, is what we conceive to have been the meaning of the framers of our constitution, with respect to this country, to which alone the words are to be applied. We do not think that the states have a right to require more from each other. The principle of representation necessarily involves those of the sovereignty of the people, and the responsibility of public officers. Every thing else is matter of detail, which may well be left to the wisdom of the states.

The United States are further bound to protect each of the states against invasion, and if required by the legislature of any of them, or by the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened,) against domestic violence.

Section 10.-Restrictions on State and Federal Power.

No state can enter into any treaty, alliance or confederation; this prohibition is general and unconditional, and a subsequent clause prohibits the states from making, without the consent of congress, any agreement or compact with each other; nor can they, without such consent, engage in war or keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, unless in case of invasion or imminent danger, which admits of no delay. They cannot grant letters of marque and reprisal, coin money, emit bills of credit, make any thing but gold and silver a tender in payment of debts, nor pass any law, impairing the obligation of contracts. These last mentioned prohibitions are absolute and unconditional.

The states cannot, without the consent of congress, lay any duty on tonnage, nor on imports or exports, unless that may be absolutely necessary for executing their inspection laws, which are laws for ascertaining the merchantable quality of produce, previous to exportation, and which the states are authorized to make. The net proceeds of all imposts and duties laid by any state on imports or exports are to be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws are to be subject to the revision and control of congress.

No such imposts or duties have been yet laid by any

of the states; it has not been found necessary for the execution of their inspection laws.

Neither the United States nor the states individually can pass bills of attainder, or ex post facto laws, nor can they grant titles of nobility. No person holding any office of profit or trust under the United States, can, without the consent of congress, accept any present, emolument, office or title of any kind whatever from any king, prince or foreign state.

Congress can 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Besides the above restrictions, there are numerous articles, as well in the constitution as in the amendments to it, in the nature of a bill of rights, and the object of which is to secure the liberty of the citizen, particularly as respects the benefit of the writ of habeas corpus, of trial by jury in civil and criminal cases; the inviolability of domicile, and security from illegal searches and from the obligation of quartering soldiers in time of peace, and other like provisions, by which civil liberty is fully guaranteed.

The enumeration in the constitution of certain rights, is not to be constructed to deny or disparage

others retained by the people, and the powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively or to the people. This article differs from a similar one in the confederation in this, that the word expressly is here left out, which leaves room for implied powers, without the admission of which the constitution could not be carried into effect.

SECTION 11.-Public Law between the States.

This is what Tacitus calls humanitatis commercia, and what has been still more elegantly called fædera generis humani. Our constitution says but little on this important subject. What it says, however, is susceptible of much developement, and, it is hoped, will receive it. These are the principal features of what it declares:

The citizens of each state are entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states. Fugitives from justice and from personal service or labour, are to be delivered up on being demanded in the manner prescribed by the constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof.

Full faith and credit are to be given in each state to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state; and congress may prescribe by law the manner in which such records and proceedings

« ZurückWeiter »