Limits on States: A Reference Guide to the United States Constitution

By James M. McGoldrick Jr. | Go to book overview

Foreword

KENNETH STARR

Historically, Article I, Section 10, represented the single most important limitation on state power in the main body of the Constitution. Its importance has now been largely overshadowed by due process and equal protection limits in the Fourteenth Amendment, but in addition to its historical significance, Article I, Section 10, has relevance to the modern-day lawyer as well. Professor McGoldrick brings to light the many provisions of this section of the Constitution, emphasizing those of the most importance today. The Contract Clause, in particular, has had a checkered history, going from the main provision for Chief Justice John Marshall’s attempt to advance federalist interest by limiting state powers to what appeared to be a quiet and permanent demise to its recent rediscovery by the Supreme Court. Though the modern Court may again have lost some of its enthusiasm for the Contract Clause, as Professor McGoldrick illustrates, no state may safely ignore its preexisting contractual agreements without closely considering the constitutional limits, however limited they may be.

The Ex Post Facto Clause is particularly fascinating; virtually every year brings new ex post facto claims to state and federal courts, and many of them find their way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Though there is a surface simplicity to the prohibition, its various permutations are anything but simple. With problems running from retroactive application of sentencing guidelines to the impact of evidentiary changes, Professor McGoldrick points out the surprisingly controversial nature of this fundamental limitation on retroactive legislation. Though the prohibition on bills of attainder has proven to be less important as a constitutional limit, Professor McGoldrick traces the reasons why the historical limits on that doctrine have made it a less effective limitation on governmental powers than many might have hoped.

There is no attempt here to fully discuss the Import-Export Clause, but the key underlying themes are clearly identified. The story of the rise and fall of the Original Package Doctrine is a particularly interesting one. Though there are a number of other books on the details of interstate compacts, Professor Mc-

-xiii-

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Limits on States: A Reference Guide to the United States Constitution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Foreword ix
  • Foreword xiii
  • 1 - History and Introduction to Article I, Section 10 1
  • 2 - The Contract Clause 5
  • 3 - Bills of Attainder 55
  • 4 - Ex Post Facto Laws 65
  • 5 - The Nonretroactive Provisions of Article I, Section 10 81
  • 6 - The Import-Export Clause 89
  • 7 - Interstate Compacts 101
  • 8 - Concluding Comments on Article I, Section 10 111
  • Bibliographical Essay 115
  • Table of Cases 125
  • Index 131
  • About the Author 135
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