Annotation 45 - Article I


Section 9. Powers Denied to Congress

Clause 1. Importation of Slaves

General Purpose of Section 9

This section of the Constitution (containing eight clauses restricting or prohibiting legislation affecting the importation of slaves, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, the enactment of bills of attainder or ex post facto laws, the levying of taxes on exports, the granting of preference to ports of one State over another, the granting of titles of nobility, et cetera) is devoted to restraints upon the power of Congress and of the National Govern ment, 1683 and in no respect affects the States in the regulation of their domestic affairs. 1684  

The above clause, which sanctioned the importation of slaves by the States for twenty years after the adoption of the Constitution, when considered with the section requiring escaped slaves to be returned to their masters, Art. IV, Sec. 1, cl. 3, was held by Chief Justice Taney in Scott v. Sandford, 1685 to show conclusively that such persons and their descendants were not embraced within the term ''citizen'' as used in the Constitution. Today, this ruling is interesting only as an historical curiosity.


[Footnote 1683] Barron v. Baltimore, 32 U.S. (7 Pet.) 243 (1833); Morgan v. Louisiana, 118 U.S. 455, 467 (1886).

[Footnote 1684] Munn v. Illinois, 94 U.S. 113, 135 (1877); Johnson v. Chicago & Pacific Elevator Co., 119 U.S. 388, 400 (1886).

[Footnote 1685]   60 U.S. (19 How.) 393, 411 (1857).

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