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Article I, Section 9: Limitations on Congress

Specific limits and prohibitions on the powers of Congress are listed in this article. Among others, Congress could not interfere with the slave trade until 1808 – a decade after the signing of the Constitution – and cannot suspend habeas corpus except in cases of rebellion or invasion, or when public safety requires it.

The limitation on suspension of the writ of habeas corpus – the right of accused persons to demand that the government present evidence of their wrongdoing – was central to the Supreme Court case ex parte Milligan (1866). This Article also provided one basis for the decision in McCullough v. Maryland (1819), authored by Chief Justice John Marshall.