Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3

[Volume 3, Page 343]

Document 1

Montesquieu, Spirit of Laws, bk. 12, CH. 19


19.--In what Manner the Use of Liberty is suspended in a Republic

In countries where liberty is most esteemed, there are laws by which a single person is deprived of it, in order to preserve it for the whole community. Such are in England what they call Bills of Attainder. These are in relation to those Athenian laws by which a private person was condemned, provided they were made by the unanimous suffrage of six thousand citizens. They are in relation also to those laws which were made at Rome against private citizens, and were called privileges. These were never passed except in the great meetings of the people. But in what manner soever they were enacted, Cicero was for having them abolished, because the force of a law consists in its being made for the whole community. I must own, notwithstanding, that the practice of the freest nation that ever existed induces me to think that there are cases in which a veil should be drawn for a while over liberty, as it was customary to cover the statues of the gods.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 3, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3, Document 1
The University of Chicago Press

The Spirit of Laws. 1748. Translated by Thomas Nugent, 1750.

© 1987 by The University of Chicago
All rights reserved. Published 2000