Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

No Ex Post Facto Law

                    The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I, Section 10, Clause 1:  "No State shall … pass … ex post facto Law…."  American citizens are assured by this clause that they will not be charged for any crime that was not on the books before it was committed.  More information on thissubject can be found here.   

                    "The issue of ex post facto laws was more nuanced [than Bill of Attainder].  Many of the Founders regarded retroactive laws, both civil and criminal, as contrary to the principle of legality itself.  Roman Law, as well as Henry de Bracton, Sir Edward Coke, and Sir William Blackstone in English law, and the influential Baron de Montesquieu condemned the practice.  Thomas Jefferson noted in an 1813 letter to Isaac McPherson, `The sentiment that ex post facto laws are against natural right, is so strong in the United States, that few, if any, of the state constitutions have failed to proscribe them.'  At Philadelphia, some Framers, such as James Wilson, thought ex post facto laws so extra-legal that they were void ab initio; no textual prohibition was necessary.  But a majority wanted the prohibition stated in express terms.  (See David F. Forte in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, 170.)

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