Moot Court

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Jeremy Cooper
Moot Court 1

The Constitutionality of the “Slave trade Act”
The question before the Court is the constitutionality of the Slave Trade Act. The bill was first proposed by Congressman Weber in 1858 in an attempt to prohibit the sale of slaves in the United States. The bill was passed into law in the spring of 1859. The petitioner congressman Ryan Suter, argues that the Slave Trade Act is unconstitutional. According to the court Suter argues “slaves are likened to property, the property owner has rights, guaranteed by the Constitution. Suter goes on to state “the Constitution clearly protects the broad police powers of the states this includes the regulation of all things within its borders for the wellbeing and safety of the citizens.” Weber’s argument for the constitutionality of the Slave Trade Act could be based within the decision of Prigg v. Pennsylvania and within Article IV of the Constitution. In Prigg v. Pennsylvania, the Court states that Congress has the right to enforce Article IV, which protects the property rights of slaveholders. From this case, the decision could be used to say that, since Congress has this power over commodities i.e. slaves being traded, they also have the power to regulate the commercial activity of such commodities.

The Necessary and Proper clause could also be used to argue the constitutionality of this law; the supporting legal argument is found in McCulloch v. Maryland, which established implied powers within the Constitution. Finally, an argument could also be made from Gibbons v. Ogden. The conclusion could be drawn that states cannot regulate commerce because it is a power of Congress. Gibbons v. Ogden defines the terms interstate and intrastate forms of commerce. To say that the Slave Trade Act is constitutional, it must be accepted that the Slave Trade Act is confined within the boundaries of individual states. I do agree that Congress does in fact have the authority to abolish the trade of...
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