Section 9 - The Text
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.
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.
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
No capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid,[unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.5
No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.
No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.
No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
5. Modified by Amendment XVI.
Section 9 - The Meaning
Article I, Section 9 specifically prohibits Congress from legislating in certain areas. In the first clause, the Constitution bars Congress from banning the importation of slaves before 1808.
In the second and third clauses, the Constitution specifically guarantees rights to those accused of crimes. It provides that the privilege of a writ of habeas corpus, which allows a prisoner to challenge his or her imprisonment in court, cannot be suspended except in extreme circumstances such as rebellion or invasion, where the public is in danger. Suspension of the writ of habeas corpus has occurred only a few times in history. For example, President Lincoln suspended the writ during the Civil War. In 1871, it was suspended in nine counties in South Carolina to combat the Ku Klux Klan.
Similarly, the Constitution specifically prohibits bills of attainder — laws that are directed against a specific person or group of persons, making them automatically guilty of serious crimes, such as treason, without a normal court proceeding. The ban is intended to prevent Congress from bypassing the courts and denying criminal defendants the protections guaranteed by other parts of the Constitution.
In addition, the Constitution prohibits “ex post facto” laws — criminal laws that make an action illegal after someone has already taken it. This protection guarantees that individuals are warned ahead of time that their actions are illegal.
The provision in the fourth clause prohibiting states from imposing direct taxes was changed by Amendment XVI, which gives Congress the power to impose a federal income tax. To ensure equality among the states, the Constitution prohibits states from imposing taxes on goods coming into their state from another state and from favoring the ports of one state over the ports of others.
Article I, Section 9, also requires that Congress produce a regular accounting of the monies the federal government spends. Rejecting the monarchy of England, the Constitution also specifically prohibits Congress from granting a title of nobility to any person and prohibits public officials from accepting a title of nobility, office, or gift from any foreign country or monarch without congressional approval.