American Association for Lockean Liberty, Inc.

Not just ideas about liberty, but liberty enforceable by law

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U.S. Constitution

For reference purposes, and to help understand key words and phrases contained in the nonprofit’s book, a condensed easy-to-read version of the Constitution follows.  Unless retained to maintain structure, sections irrelevant to our discussion about tax and monetary powers have been deleted, with relevant Constitutional words in red and notations in blue.


The Constitution of the United States (abbreviated & annotated)

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.


Section 1

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.


Section 2

1.  The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States . . . .

2.  No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and . . . .

3. Representatives anddirect Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed ,three fifths of all other Persons . . . . (This is the APPORTIONMENT CLAUSE, one part of the DIRECT TAX CLAUSES.  The “three-fifths rule” was in force in 1787, but nullified after the Civil War in 1865.)

Section 3

1.  The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote. . . .


Section 4

1.  The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may . . . .


Section 5

1.  Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but . . . .


Section 6

1.  The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall . . . .


Section 7

1.  All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments . . . .


Section 8

1.  The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;  (This is the INDIRECT TAX CLAUSE, also known as the UNIFORMITY CLAUSE.)

2.  To borrow Money on the credit of the United States; . . . (This is the BORROWED MONEY CLAUSE.)

3.  To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes; . . . (This is the COMMERCE CLAUSE, a clause that continues to dominate U.S. law because of the industrial and technological revolutions.)

4.  To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

5.  To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures; . . . (This is the COINED MONEY CLAUSE.)

6.  To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

7.  To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

8.  To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries; . . . (This is the INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CLAUSE, occasionally referred to as the IP CLAUSE. John Locke is often credited with providing the philosophical foundation for this property right, but  the “for limited times” part tends to be minimized and there is doubt about whether Locke would permit the right to be held by artificial persons.)

9.  To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

10.  To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

11.  To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

12.  To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

13.  To provide and maintain a Navy;

14.  To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

15.  To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

16.  To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States . . . .

17.  To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and . . . .

18.  To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof. (This is the NECESSARY AND PROPER CLAUSE.)

Section 9

1.  The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person. (This deletion was effective only after the Civil War. As this clause implies, a phase-out period for slavery was supposed to begin in 1808.)

2..The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

3.  No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

4.  No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken. (This is the PROPORTIONMENT CLAUSE, one part of the DIRECT TAX CLAUSES.  Property held “because of ownership” is subject to this clause, but when income is derived from property sources, taxes on that form of income are not subject to this clause after ratification of the 16th Amendment in 1913.)

5.  No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

6.  No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another; nor . . . .

7.  No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account . . . .

8.  No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall . . . .


Section 10

1.  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; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contract . . . . (When the Bank of Kentucky violated this clause in the 1837 Briscoe case, the Civil War became necessary if the federal government, along with its own currencies, was to survive.)

2.  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 it’s inspection Laws: and . . . .

3.  No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into . . . .


Section 1

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows: . . .


Section 2

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States . . . .


Section 3

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend . . . .


Section 4

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.


Section 1

The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress . . . .


Section 2

1.  The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;–to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;–to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;–to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party  . . .

2.  In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction . . . .

3.  The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but . . . .


Section 3

1.  Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

2.  The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.


Section 1

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.


Section 2

1.  The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

2.  A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

3.No Person held to Service or Labor in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labor, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labor may be due(This deletion was effective only after the Civil War.)


Section 3

1.  New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

2.  The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

Section 4

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.


The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof . . . .


1.  All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

2.  This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. (This is the SUPREMACY CLAUSE.)

3.  The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. (This is the OATH OR AFFIRMATION CLAUSE.)

AMENDMENT 13 (1865)

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. (This amendment nullified: (1) a portion of Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3; (2) all of Article 4, Section 3; and (3) all of Article 1, Section 9, Clause 1.)

AMENDMENT 14 (1868)

Section 1

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.


Section 2
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State being twenty-one years of age,* (*Changed by Section 1 of the 26th amendment) and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State. (This section changed the way representatives would be apportioned among the states and eliminated the “three fifths rule” of Article 1, Section 2, but it did not otherwise modify or eliminate the class of taxation known as “direct taxes.”)

Section 3
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void. . . .

AMENDMENT 15 (1870)

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

AMENDMENT 16 (1913)

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration. (This amendment eliminated any legal notion that taxes on income are direct taxes under Article 1, Section 9. It is not often considered to be part of the “Civil War Amendments,” but in fact it was the most important one.)

AMENDMENT 19 (1920)

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. (The women’s rights movement was an outgrowth of the Civil War and was tracking the legal progress being made by former American slaves.  This amendment is included in this abbreviated version of the Constitution because extending property rights in labor to half the world’s population may ultimately dwarf what was achieved by the abolishment of slavery in the United States in the 1860’s.)

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