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Powers Denied to Congress - James McClellan, Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government 
Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government (3rd ed.) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000).
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Powers Denied to Congress
These great grants of power to the Congress had to be balanced by certain strong restraints on federal authority if the people of the thirteen States were to be persuaded to ratify the Constitution. So Section 9 of Article I sets definite limits on what Congress may do.
The first-listed restraint, which seems odd to us today, is that Congress might not forbid the importation of slaves until 1808. This temporary provision is followed by guarantees of ancient rights and privileges derived from the British common law and constitution. The first of these is the privilege of habeas corpus, a Latin term meaning “you have the body.” A writ of habeas corpus is an order issued by a court to an arresting officer, directing him to bring a prisoner before the court. If confinement was improper, the judge will order his release. The writ of habeas corpus, one of the most ancient liberties inherited from England, is wholly procedural in character and defines no rights. But it offers persons charged with a crime one of their most important protections against illegal arrest and confinement, and serves as an important check on the illegal usurpation of power by the executive. The writ has been used in England and the United States to test the legality of virtually any confinement, including detention by military authorities. Under the Constitution, Congress may suspend this privilege in times of rebellion or invasion. During the Civil War, President Lincoln suspended the writ without Congressional authorization, and was much criticized for his action.
The second guarantee is protection against bills of attainder. This is a legislative act designed to punish a particular individual without a jury trial. Congress can determine what conduct shall be considered a federal crime, but no one can be punished until after a jury trial. This guarantee is an important check on the illegal usurpation of power by the legislature. The prohibition was originally adopted in England to outlaw the practice of legislative punishment, whereby individuals could be condemned to death by a special act of Parliament. Legislative acts inflicting lesser punishments are called bills of “pains and penalties.” As interpreted by the Supreme Court, the prohibition against bills of attainder extends to all legislative acts, “no matter what their form, that apply either to named individuals or to easily ascertainable members of a group in such a way as to inflict punishment on them without a judicial trial.”
The third guarantee, which is also a check on the legislature inherited from English law, is protection against ex post facto laws. These are retrospective or retroactive laws which impose criminal penalties for acts that were not illegal when they were performed. Over the years, the Supreme Court has interpreted the prohibition to include any law which operates to the disadvantage of an individual accused of a crime committed before the law was passed. This includes laws that change the punishment and inflict a greater penalty than the one affixed to the crime when it was committed, and laws that alter the rules of evidence so as to permit less or different evidence for a conviction than was required at the time the crime was committed. The ex post facto clause was apparently intended by the Framers to apply to retrospective laws devaluing property rights, but very early in our history the Supreme Court held in Calder v. Bull (1798) that the restriction applies only to criminal laws.
Section 9 also forbids Congress to levy direct taxes unless in proportion to population; to tax exports; or to favor the ports or shipping of one State over the ports or shipping of another State. Federal officials are forbidden from drawing money from the Treasury except in accordance with Congress’s appropriation of funds. Finally, Section 9 forbids Congress to grant titles of nobility. Nor can anyone connected with the Federal administration accept gifts, or titles, or other favors from foreign governments without Congressional consent.