By Mark Skousen
Today is Constitution Day, the anniversary of the day members of the Continental Congress signed the US Constitution on September 17, 1787.
There are several extremely important clauses in the Constitution that very few scholars recognize but which destined America to become the superpower that it is today.
Here is my short column on this breakthrough principle in a recent Skousen CAFE:
Canada Closes Its Borders for No Good Reason
We received a call from a Canadian couple who said that they had to cancel coming to FreedomFest. They wanted to attend “the greatest libertarian show on earth,” but the Canadian authorities have decided to close the border to all “non-essential” travel.
Which raises an interesting question: Why were the Canadian and Mexican borders closed in 2020 and 2021, while the borders between states remained open?
Even now, while Americans can travel or move freely between states from coast to coast, they cannot travel to and from Canada and Mexico.
Did the pandemic suddenly stop at the borders?
The reason is simple to explain, but often involves a principle taken for granted by American citizens: The United States Constitution does not allow state governors to close their borders to adjacent states. Countries can do it, but not states.
None of the 50 states can keep you from visiting, moving or working in another state. They cannot keep you from transferring money, capital or goods to another state. They cannot require a passport for you to enter their state. They cannot impose any import or export duties between states.
The only exception is for the inspection of fruits and vegetables, something California does.
It’s All in The Constitution Section 9 and 10 of Article I of the U.S. Constitution is clear:
“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 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 Article 4, section 2, states:
“The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.”
Finally, the 14th Amendment states:
“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.”
Creating a Gigantic Free-Trade Zone from Coast to Coast
That’s why we are called the United States of America. The uniting of the 50 states economically is a major reason why America leads the world as an economic powerhouse. It has created a gigantic free-trade zone from coast to coast.
Ancient Rome had a similar arrangement. There were no trade restrictions inside the Roman empire; it was one reason the Roman empire lasted so long.
Recently, European nations have attempted to imitate our success with the creation of the European Union, sometimes called the “United States of Europe,” along with a single currency, the euro — to create a large free-trade zone of money, labor and capital.
Does the Constitution Limit or Expand State Powers? On the other hand, Article I, Section 8, grants extremely broad powers to Congress — to print money, expand credit, level taxes and import duties and declare war. You can drive a truck through section 8 of the Constitution.
As George Washington allegedly said, “Government is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
At this year’s FreedomFest, we had a big debate on “The Constitution: Conceived in Liberty or Conspiratorial Coup?” We debated libertarian Murray Rothbard’s controversial contention that the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was a power grab to dramatically increase the state’s control of the new nation.
Professor Patrick Newman, a fellow of the Mises Institute, argued in favor of Rothbard’s thesis, that James Madison called the Convention to secretly expand the power of the state. He was followed with commentary by legal authorities John Norton Moore (University of Virginia) and Anastasia Boden, senior attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, who defended the Constitution. It was an electrifying debate.
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Happy Constitution Day!
In liberty, AEIOU,