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

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

5
The Nonretroactive Provisions of
Article I, Section 10

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;… or grant any Title of Nobility
.
Article I, Section 10, Clause 1


INTRODUCTION

The nonretroactive provisions of Article I, Section 10, Clause 1, prevent the states from (1) entering into any “Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation”; (2) granting “Letters of Marque and Reprisal”; (3) coining “Money,” emitting “Bills of Credit,” or making anything other than gold and silver coin “a Tender in Payment of Debts”; or (4) granting “any Title of Nobility.” These provisions are all distinct and will be discussed separately. They are alike in that they are outright and absolute prohibitions regarding the powers of the states and allow no room for exceptions. This absolute prohibition distinguishes these provisions from Article I, Section 10, Clause 2 (dealing with duties on state exports and imports), and Clause 3 (dealing with tonnage, maintaining troops or ships during times of peace, interstate compacts, and entering into war), which allow states to engage in certain types of activities with the consent of Congress.

The provisions of Article I, Section 10, Clause 1, of the U.S. Constitution that are not related to retroactive legislation have not individually, for the most part, been significant in the constitutional history of the United States. Nonetheless, Chief Justice John Marshall saw them, as well as Clause 2 and Clause 3, as important as a group in emphasizing national power. He said that they “generally restrain state legislation on subjects intrusted [sic] to the general government, or in which the people of all the states feel an interest.” Further, he continued, although it would be “tedious” to discuss all of the limits, “They will be found, generally, to restrain state legislation on subjects intrusted [sic] to the govern-

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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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