Constitution of the United States/Art. III/Sec. 3/Clause 2 Punishment

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Constitutional Law Treatise
Table of Contents
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Constitutional Law Outline
The Preamble
Article I Legislative Branch
Art. I, Section 1 Legislative Vesting Clause
Art. I, Section 2 House of Representatives
Art. I, Section 3 Senate
Art. I, Section 4 Congress
Art. I, Section 5 Proceedings
Art. I, Section 6 Rights and Disabilities
Art. I, Section 7 Legislation
Art. I, Section 8 Enumerated Powers
Art. I, Section 9 Powers Denied Congress
Art. I, Section 10 Powers Denied States
Article II Executive Branch
Art. II, Section 1 Function and Selection
Art. II, Section 2 Powers
Art. II, Section 3 Duties
Art. II, Section 4 Impeachment
Article III Judicial Branch
Art. III, Section 1 Vesting Clause
Art. III, Section 2 Justiciability
Art. III, Section 3 Treason
Article IV Relationships Between the States
Art. IV, Section 1 Full Faith and Credit Clause
Art. IV, Section 2 Interstate Comity
Art. IV, Section 3 New States and Federal Property
Art. IV, Section 4 Republican Form of Government
Article V Amending the Constitution
Article VI Supreme Law
Article VII Ratification
First Amendment: Fundamental Freedoms
Establishment Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Free Speech Clause
Freedom of Association
Second Amendment: Right to Bear Arms
Third Amendment: Quartering Soldiers
Fourth Amendment: Searches and Seizures
Fifth Amendment: Rights of Persons
Sixth Amendment: Rights in Criminal Prosecutions
Seventh Amendment: Civil Trial Rights
Eighth Amendment: Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Ninth Amendment: Unenumerated Rights
Tenth Amendment: Rights Reserved to the States and the People
Eleventh Amendment: Suits Against States
Twelfth Amendment: Election of President
Thirteenth Amendment: Abolition of Slavery
Thirteenth Amend., Section 1 Prohibition on Slavery and Involuntary Servitude
Thirteenth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Fourteenth Amendment: Equal Protection and Other Rights
Fourteenth Amend., Section 1 Rights
Fourteenth Amend., Section 2 Apportionment of Representation
Fourteenth Amend., Section 3 Disqualification from Holding Office
Fourteenth Amend., Section 4 Public Debt
Fourteenth Amend., Section 5 Enforcement
Fifteenth Amendment: Right of Citizens to Vote
Fifteenth Amend., Section 1 Right to Vote
Fifteenth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Sixteenth Amendment: Income Tax
Seventeenth Amendment: Popular Election of Senators
Eighteenth Amendment: Prohibition of Liquor
Eighteenth Amend., Section 1 Prohibition
Eighteenth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement of Prohibition
Eighteenth Amend., Section 3 Ratification Deadline
Nineteenth Amendment: Women's Suffrage
Twentieth Amendment: Presidential Term and Succession
Twentieth Amend., Section 1 Terms
Twentieth Amend., Section 2 Meetings of Congress
Twentieth Amend., Section 3 Succession
Twentieth Amend., Section 4 Congress and Presidential Succession
Twentieth Amend., Section 5 Effective Date
Twentieth Amend., Section 6 Ratification
Twenty-First Amendment: Repeal of Prohibition
Twenty-First Amend., Section 1 Repeal of Eighteenth Amendment
Twenty-First Amend., Section 2 Importation, Transportation, and Sale of Liquor
Twenty-First Amend., Section 3 Ratification Deadline
Twenty-Second Amendment: Presidential Term Limits
Twenty-Second Amend., Section 1 Limit
Twenty-Second Amend., Section 2 Ratification Deadline
Twenty-Third Amendment: District of Columbia Electors
Twenty-Third Amend., Section 1 Electors
Twenty-Third Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Twenty-Fourth Amendment: Abolition of Poll Tax
Twenty-Fourth Amend., Section 1 Poll Tax
Twenty-Fourth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Presidential Vacancy
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 1 Presidential Vacancy
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 2 Vice President Vacancy
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 3 Declaration by President
Twenty-Fifth Amend., Section 4 Declaration by Vice President and Others
Twenty-Sixth Amendment: Reduction of Voting Age
Twenty-Sixth Amend., Section 1 Eighteen Years of Age
Twenty-Sixth Amend., Section 2 Enforcement
Twenty-Seventh Amendment: Congressional Compensation

Article III Judicial Branch

Section 3 Treason

Clause 2 Punishment

Clause Text
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Punishment of Treason Clause[edit | edit source]

Among other measures, the Confiscation Act of 1862 "to suppress Insurrection, to punish Treason and Rebellion, to seize and confiscate the Property of Rebels" authorized the President to confiscate certain Confederate property through court action.[1] Because of President Abraham Lincoln's concern that such authority raised concerns under the Punishment of Treason Clause, the act was accompanied by an explanatory joint resolution which stipulated that only a life estate terminating with the death of the offender could be sold and that at his death his children could take the fee simple by descent as his heirs without deriving any title from the United States.[2] In applying this act, passed pursuant to the war power and not the power to punish treason,[3] the Supreme Court in one case[4] quoted with approval the English distinction between a disability absolute and perpetual and a disability personal or temporary. Corruption of blood as a result of attainder of treason was cited as an example of the former and was defined as the disability of any of the posterity of the attained person "to claim any inheritance in fee simple, either as heir to him, or to any ancestor above him."[5]

  1. 12 Stat. 589, § 5. This act incidentally did not designate rebellion as treason.
  2. 12 Stat. 627.
  3. Miller v. United States, 78 U.S. (11 Wall.) 268, 305 (1871).
  4. Wallach v. Van Riswick, 92 U.S. 202, 213 (1876).
  5. Lord de la Warre's Case, 11 Coke Rept. 1a, 77 Eng. Rept. 1145 (1597). A number of cases dealt with the effect of a full pardon by the President of owners of property confiscated under this Act. They held that a full pardon relieved the owner of forfeiture as far as the government was concerned but did not divide the interest acquired by third persons from the government during the lifetime of the offender. Illinois Cent. R.R. v. Bosworth, 133 U.S. 92, 101 (1890); Knote v. United States, 95 U.S. 149 (1877); Wallach v. Van Riswick, 92 U.S. 202, 203 (1876); Armstrong's Foundry, 73 U.S. (6 Wall.) 766, 769 (1868). There is no direct ruling on the question of whether only citizens can commit treason. In Carlisle v. United States, 83 U.S. (16 Wall.) 147, 154-155 (1873), the Court declared that aliens while domiciled in this country owe a temporary allegiance to it and may be punished for treason equally with a native-born citizen in the absence of a treaty stipulation to the contrary. This case involved the attempt of certain British subjects to recover claims for property seized under the Captured and Abandoned Property Act, 12 Stat. 820 (1863), which provided for the recovery of property or its value in suits in the Court of Claims by persons who had not rendered aid and comfort to the enemy. Earlier, in United States v. Wiltberger, 18 U.S. (5 Wheat.) 76, 97 (1820), which involved a conviction for manslaughter under an Act punishing manslaughter and treason on the high seas, Chief Justice John Marshall going beyond the necessities of the case stated that treason "is a breach of allegiance, and can be committed by him only who owes allegiance either perpetual or temporary." However, see In re Shinohara, Court Martial Orders, No. 19, September 8, 1949, p. 4, Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, reported in 17 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 283 (1949). In this case, an enemy alien resident in United States territory (Guam) was found guilty of treason for acts done while the enemy nation of which he was a citizen occupied such territory. Under English precedents, an alien residing in British territory is open to conviction for high treason on the theory that his allegiance to the Crown is not suspended by foreign occupation of the territory. DeJager v. Attorney General of Natal (1907), A.C., 96 L.T.R. 857. See also 18 U.S.C. § 2381.