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

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

6
The Import-Export Clause

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 its 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.
Article I, Section 10, Clause 2


INTRODUCTION

The ban on state imposition of import and export taxes, except as necessary for valid inspection laws, addresses one of the principal problems under the Articles of Confederation that had left the individual colonies free to burden interstate and international commerce as they saw fit. In one of the most important modern cases, the Court called this “one of the major defects of the Articles of Confederation, and a compelling reason for the calling of the Constitutional Convention of 1787” (Michelin Tire Corp. v. Wages, 1976). With regard to international commerce, all of the colonies with international ports could burden states without such accessible ports, creating considerable resentment among the states not so geographically blessed. In the words of James Madison:

The other source of dissatisfaction was the peculiar situation of some of the States,
which having no convenient ports for foreign commerce were subject to be taxed by
their neighbors, thro whose ports, their commerce was carried on. New Jersey, placed
between Philadelphia and New York, was likened to a cask tapped at both ends: and
N. Carolina between Virginia and South Carolina to a patient bleeding at both arms.1

The Import-Export Clause’s ban on such taxes by the states was intended to remedy this defect and to give only the federal government the power to pass

-89-

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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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