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The Titles of Nobility Amendment is a proposed and still-pending amendment to the United States Constitution. The 11th Congress passed it on May 1, 1810, and submitted to the state legislatures for ratification.It would strip United States citizenship from any citizen who accepted a title of nobility from an "emperor, king, prince or foreign power". On two occasions between 1812 and 1816, it was within two states of the number needed to become part of the Constitution. Congress did not set a time limit for its ratification, so the amendment is still pending before the states.
If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive or retain, any title of nobility or honour, or shall, without the consent of Congress, accept and retain any present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States, and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them, or either of them.
This proposed amendment would amplify both Article I, Section 9, Clause 8, which prohibits the federal government from issuing titles of nobility or honor, and Section 10, Clause 1, which prohibits the states from issuing them.
One theory for why the Congress proposed the amendment is that it was in response to the 1803 marriage of Napoleon Bonaparte's younger brother, Jerome, and Betsy Patterson of Baltimore, Maryland, who gave birth to a boy for whom she wanted aristocratic recognition from France.The child, named Jérôme Napoléon Bonaparte, was not born in the United States, but in the United Kingdom on July 7, 1805 – nevertheless, he would have held U.S. citizenship through his mother. Another theory is that his mother actually desired a title of nobility for herself and, indeed, she is referred to as the "Duchess of Baltimore" in many texts written about the amendment (not to be confused with Baron Baltimore, a British-Irish title one of whose holders was the namesake for the city of Baltimore). The marriage had been annulled in 1805 – well before the amendment's proposal by the 11th Congress. Nonetheless, Representative Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina is recorded to have said, when voting on the amendment, that "he considered the vote on this question as deciding whether or not we were to have members of the Legion of Honor in this country." The purpose of this Amendment was to prevent those holding foreign titles, and thus the allegiance demanded by those titles, from being able to run for an office of government in the newly created Republic. This was out of fear that the foreign powers bestowing those titles would use them as markers to call in favors to either pass or impede the passing of unfavorable laws.
The Titles of Nobility Amendment was introduced in the Senate by Democratic–Republican Senator Philip Reed of Maryland, was passed on April 27, 1810, by a vote of 19–5 and sent to the House of Representatives for its consideration. It was passed by the House on May 1, 1810, by a vote of 87–3. Having been approved by Congress, the proposed amendment was sent to the state legislatures for ratification and was ratified by the following states:
The amendment was rejected by Virginia (February 14, 1811),New York (March 12, 1812), Connecticut (May 13, 1813), and Rhode Island (September 15, 1814). No other state legislature has completed ratification action on it.
When the proposed amendment was submitted to the states, ratification by 13 states was required for it to become part of the Constitution; 11 had done so by early 1812.
On February 27, 1818, President James Monroe communicated to Congress the record shown above. He and Congress were both satisfied that the required number of ratifications had not been reached. A law, passed April 20, 1818, placed official responsibility for overseeing the amendment process into the hands of the Secretary of State, where it remained until 1950.
People (known as "Thirteenthers")have claimed that the Titles of Nobility Amendment actually became part of the Constitution. It in fact was mistakenly included as the "Thirteenth Amendment" in some early 19th century printings of the Constitution. Between 1819 and 1867 the statutory law code of Virginia included it as well. This misconception has become significant because it is yoked with another misconception – that a lawyer's use of the word or abbreviation of "Esquire" is a title of nobility acquired from a foreign power – and so some litigants and others have tried to assert that lawyers have lost their citizenship or are disqualified from public office.
The error arose in 1815 when the Philadelphia printing house of Bioren and Duane published, under a government contract, a five-volume set titled Laws of the United States. On page 74 of the first volume,the proposed amendment was printed as "Article 13" along with the authentic Eleventh and Twelfth amendments. There was no indication on the page that Article 13 had not yet passed into law, however earlier in the volume, on page ixof the Introduction, the editors said:
There has been some difficulty in ascertaining whether the amendment proposed, which is stated as the thirteenth, has or has not been adopted by a sufficient number of the state legislatures. ... It has been considered best, however, to publish the proposed amendment in its proper place, as if it had been adopted, with this explanation, to prevent misconception.
It appears that the Bioren and Duane set of federal laws being widely distributed as a standard reference, some compilers of other books copied its text of the Constitution and not remembering, or having skipped, the caveat in the Introduction, mistakenly included the Titles of Nobility Amendment as if it had been adopted as the Thirteenth Amendment. This error came to the attention of the U.S. House of Representatives in December 1817. At that time, the publisher of a pocket edition of the Constitution, printed under government contract, included the amendment as the Thirteenth Amendment, at which time the House requested that the President ascertain and report on the true status of the proposed amendment. Notwithstanding the official conclusion that the amendment had not been adopted, the erroneous printing of the proposed amendment as if adopted occasionally occurred (using the Americanized spelling and punctuation of Bioren and Duane, and omitting any ratification information just like Bioren and Duane) until some time after 1845. In 1845, the Bioren and Duane series of laws was replaced by an entirely new series, United States Statutes at Large, which printed the Constitution with only 12 amendments in volume 1 and put the unadopted Titles of Nobility Amendment among congressional resolutions in volume 2.
In 1833, Associate Justice Joseph Story of the U.S. Supreme Court published the text of the Constitution in his Commentaries on the Constitution. That publication included twelve amendments and a clear statement (in § 959) that there were only twelve amendments adopted. The text also included a statement (in § 1346) that the Titles of Nobility Amendment had not been adopted "probably from a growing sense that it is wholly unnecessary". In 1847, Associate Justice Levi Woodbury mentioned in a dissenting opinion that there "were only twelve amendments ever made to" the Constitution.In Dillon v. Gloss (1921), the Supreme Court explicitly described the Titles of Nobility Amendment as not having been adopted. In Coleman v. Miller (1939), the two dissenting Justices similarly described the Titles of Nobility Amendment as unadopted. In Afroyim v. Rusk (1967), the majority and dissenting opinions described it as unadopted.
On March 2, 1861, the Congress proposed the Corwin Amendment, which if adopted would have prevented any federal legislation, including a future proposed amendment to the Constitution, that would have interfered with or abolished slavery.It is significant that, although this proposal was already titled as the Thirteenth Amendment, no one claimed that there already was an adopted Thirteenth Amendment.
On February 1, 1865, the 38th Congress passed and sent to the states for ratification a proposed amendment that would become the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery.When it was proposed and adopted, no one protested that there already was a Thirteenth Amendment – either the 1810 or the 1861 proposals.
The assertion that the Titles of Nobility Amendment has been ratified by the required number of states has never been upheld by any court in the United States. In the few instances in which courts have been confronted with the assertion that it was, those claims have been dismissed. In Campion v. Towns,a tax protester raised it in his defenses against a charge of tax evasion. The court replied that it would "correct any misunderstanding Plaintiff has concerning the text of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution":
In his Complaint, Plaintiff includes a certified copy of the Thirteenth Amendment from the Colorado State Archives which was published in 1861. As included in that compilation, the Thirteenth Amendment would strip an individual of United States citizenship if they accept any title of nobility or honor. However, this is not the Thirteenth Amendment. The correct Thirteenth Amendment prohibits slavery. Although some people claim that state publication of the erroneous Thirteenth Amendment makes it valid, Article V of the Constitution does not so provide.
In a 2004 case, Sibley v. Culliver, a federal district court found that the defendant's invocation of this amendment worked to his detriment. The court took note of documents produced by the defendant, a convicted murderer who submitted documents in support of his appeal claiming that it rendered his conviction invalid:
These documents allege in great detail a complex conspiracy by an illegal monopoly, the American Bar Association, which resulted in a take-over of the judicial systems of this country, both federal and state, by the ABA and its related entities, including the Alabama State Bar Association and Alabama's Unified Court System. It is then alleged that the ABA-controlled system is illegal and in violation of what is referred to as the "missing Thirteenth Amendment", to the United States Constitution, which stated that any person who accepts a title of nobility forfeits his United States citizenship and which amendment was ratified but subsequently hidden or excised from the law. Since lawyers and judges accept the titles "Esquire"/"The Honorable", it is argued, they are not citizens and the entire judicial system is illegal. Furthermore, these documents contend that the charge of conviction in this case, capital murder of a police officer acting in the line of duty, is unconstitutional because it bestows upon police officers special rights or a special designation of the worth of life in contravention of the "missing Thirteenth Amendment". The documents then explain that these are reasons that Sibley and his wife refused appointed counsel on appeal and refused to pursue matters any further in the court system and that only Congress can give them relief.
The Sibley court dismissed the appeal, concluding in part that the defendant was simply not seeking relief through the courts. Sibley v. Culliver was cited by a court in describing a prison inmate's attempt to use the Titles of Nobility Amendment to claim immunity from jurisdiction:
Some plaintiffs have relied on what they have called the "true" Thirteenth Amendment to argue that various individuals are not citizens. This version of the Thirteenth Amendment allegedly states that individuals who accept titles of nobility must renounce their United States citizenship. ... The Court interprets Belt's claim of a noble title and another nationality as further indications of his attempt to renounce his citizenship and therefore contest the Government's ability to keep him imprisoned.
In a 2001 decision by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, the court rejected a defendant's attempt to use the Titles of Nobility Amendment to deny the trial court's authority to put him on trial:
[The Defendant] also appears to argue that licensing lawyers violates the original Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by equating licensure with accepting a title of nobility or honor. The current Thirteenth Amendment does not resemble the one Casteel cites, nor is he correct that a lawyer's license to practice is granted by a foreign power.
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It superseded the Articles of Confederation, the nation's first constitution, in 1789. Originally comprising seven articles, it delineates the national frame and constraints of government. The Constitution's first three articles embody the doctrine of the separation of powers, whereby the federal government is divided into three branches: the legislative, consisting of the bicameral Congress ; the executive, consisting of the president and subordinate officers ; and the judicial, consisting of the Supreme Court and other federal courts. Article IV, Article V, and Article VI embody concepts of federalism, describing the rights and responsibilities of state governments, the states in relationship to the federal government, and the shared process of constitutional amendment. Article VII establishes the procedure subsequently used by the 13 states to ratify it. The Constitution of the United States is the oldest and longest-standing written and codified national constitution in force in the world today.
Article Five of the United States Constitution describes the process for altering the Constitution. Under Article Five, the process to alter the Constitution consists of proposing an amendment or amendments, and subsequent ratification.
The Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution addresses rights, retained by the people, that are not specifically enumerated in the Constitution. It is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment was introduced during the drafting of the Bill of Rights when some of the American founders became concerned that future generations might argue that, because a certain right was not listed in the Bill of Rights, it did not exist. However, the Ninth Amendment has rarely played any role in U.S. constitutional law, and until the 1980s was often considered "forgotten" or "irrelevant" by many legal academics.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. The amendment was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, by the House of Representatives on January 31, 1865, and ratified by the required 27 of the then 36 states on December 6, 1865, and proclaimed on December 18. It was the first of the three Reconstruction Amendments adopted following the American Civil War.
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments. Usually considered one of the most consequential amendments, it addresses citizenship rights and equal protection under the law and was proposed in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War. The amendment was bitterly contested, particularly by the states of the defeated Confederacy, which were forced to ratify it in order to regain representation in Congress. The amendment, particularly its first section, is one of the most litigated parts of the Constitution, forming the basis for landmark Supreme Court decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954) regarding racial segregation, Roe v. Wade (1973) regarding abortion, Bush v. Gore (2000) regarding the 2000 presidential election, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) regarding same-sex marriage. The amendment limits the actions of all state and local officials, and also those acting on behalf of such officials.
The Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution repealed the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which had mandated nationwide prohibition on alcohol. The Twenty-first Amendment was proposed by the 72nd Congress on February 20, 1933, and was ratified by the requisite number of states on December 5, 1933. It is unique among the 27 amendments of the U.S. Constitution for being the only one to repeal a prior amendment, as well as being the only amendment to have been ratified by state ratifying conventions.
The Slaughter-House Cases, 83 U.S. 36 (1873), was a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision consolidating several cases that held that the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution only protects the legal rights that are associated with federal U.S. citizenship, not those that pertain to state citizenship. Though the decision in the Slaughter-House Cases minimized the impact of the Privileges or Immunities Clause on state law, the Supreme Court would later incorporate the Bill of Rights to strike down state laws on the basis of other clauses. In 2010, the Court rejected arguments in McDonald v. Chicago to overrule the established precedent of Slaughterhouse and decided instead to incorporate the Second Amendment via the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The Corwin Amendment is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that has never been adopted, but owing to the absence of a ratification deadline, could still be adopted by the state legislatures. It would shield slavery within the states from the federal constitutional amendment process and from abolition or interference by Congress. Although the Corwin Amendment does not explicitly use the word slavery, it was designed specifically to protect slavery from federal power. The outgoing 36th United States Congress proposed the Corwin Amendment on March 2, 1861, shortly before the outbreak of the American Civil War, with the intent of preventing that war and preserving the Union. It passed Congress but was not ratified by the requisite number of state legislatures.
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was the first United States federal law to define citizenship and affirm that all citizens are equally protected by the law. It was mainly intended, in the wake of the American Civil War, to protect the civil rights of persons of African descent born in or brought to the United States.
State ratifying conventions are one of the two methods established by Article V of the United States Constitution for ratifying proposed constitutional amendments. The only amendment that has been ratified through this method thus far is the 21st Amendment in 1933.
Afroyim v. Rusk, 387 U.S. 253 (1967), was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled that citizens of the United States may not be deprived of their citizenship involuntarily. The U.S. government had attempted to revoke the citizenship of Beys Afroyim, a man born in Poland, because he had cast a vote in an Israeli election after becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen. The Supreme Court decided that Afroyim's right to retain his citizenship was guaranteed by the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. In so doing, the Court struck down a federal law mandating loss of U.S. citizenship for voting in a foreign election—thereby overruling one of its own precedents, Perez v. Brownell (1958), in which it had upheld loss of citizenship under similar circumstances less than a decade earlier.
The Bricker Amendment is the collective name of a number of slightly different proposed amendments to the United States Constitution considered by the United States Senate in the 1950s. None of these amendments ever passed Congress. Each of them would require explicit congressional approval, especially for executive agreements that did not require the Senate's two-thirds approval for treaty. They are named for their sponsor, conservative Republican Senator John W. Bricker of Ohio, who distrusted the exclusive powers of the president to involve the United States beyond the wishes of Congress.
The Reconstruction Amendments, or the Civil War Amendments, are the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments to the United States Constitution, adopted between 1865 and 1870. The amendments were a part of the implementation of the Reconstruction of the American South which occurred after the war.
The United States Bill of Rights comprises the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. Proposed following the often bitter 1787–88 debate over the ratification of the Constitution and written to address the objections raised by Anti-Federalists, the Bill of Rights amendments add to the Constitution specific guarantees of personal freedoms and rights, clear limitations on the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and explicit declarations that all powers not specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved to the states or the people. The concepts codified in these amendments are built upon those in earlier documents, especially the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776), as well as the Northwest Ordinance (1787), the English Bill of Rights (1689), and Magna Carta (1215).
The Citizenship Clause is the first sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which was adopted on July 9, 1868, which states:
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.
The Foreign Emoluments Clause is a provision in Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, that prohibits the federal government from granting titles of nobility, and restricts members of the federal government from receiving gifts, emoluments, offices or titles from foreign states and monarchies without the consent of the United States Congress. Also known as the Titles of Nobility Clause, it was designed to shield the federal officeholders of the United States against so-called "corrupting foreign influences". The clause is reinforced by the corresponding prohibition on state titles of nobility in Article I, Section 10, and more generally by the Republican Guarantee Clause in Article IV, Section 4.
Tax protester Sixteenth Amendment arguments are assertions that the imposition of the U.S. federal income tax is illegal because the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reads "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", was never properly ratified, or that the amendment provides no power to tax income. Proper ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment is disputed by tax protesters who argue that the quoted text of the Amendment differed from the text proposed by Congress, or that Ohio was not a State during ratification, despite its admission to the Union on March 1, 1803, more than a century prior. Sixteenth Amendment ratification arguments have been rejected in every court case where they have been raised and have been identified as legally frivolous.
Tax protesters in the United States advance a number of constitutional arguments asserting that the imposition, assessment and collection of the federal income tax violates the United States Constitution. These kinds of arguments, though related to, are distinguished from statutory and administrative arguments, which presuppose the constitutionality of the income tax, as well as from general conspiracy arguments, which are based upon the proposition that the three branches of the federal government are involved together in a deliberate, on-going campaign of deception for the purpose of defrauding individuals or entities of their wealth or profits. Although constitutional challenges to U.S. tax laws are frequently directed towards the validity and effect of the Sixteenth Amendment, assertions that the income tax violates various other provisions of the Constitution have been made as well.