The seven illegal Presidents of the US

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GENIERE
Ohio was admitted into the Union as a state in 1803. Or was it? It seems a small technicality was omitted, that being the necessary passage of a resolution by congress, since corrected in 1953. It was made retroactive to 1803 in violation of another constitutional caveat…”Congress shall make no ex post facto law”.

It is required that a president be a citizen of the US. These presidents, all from Ohio, served illegally: Taft, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, B. Harrison, McKinley, and Harding. All laws enacted and hence signed by them are therefore invalid.

This is obviously a tongue in cheek post, but it does present an interesting argument about the legality of the 16th Amendment, the dreaded income tax.

As an amendment must be ratified by the individual states, Ohio was one of the ratifying states.

The obvious conclusion is???
 

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  • #2
member 5645
http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a5_127.html

The ban on ex post facto laws refers only to criminal matters. Case law, 1798. Ohio's retroactive admission to the union was OK.

Persons born in U.S. territories--not just in states--are U.S. citizens. (For example, Puerto Rico.) So Taft was a natural-born citizen and could legally serve as president.

Even if he wasn't, so what? Presidents don't introduce constitutional amendments; members of Congress do.

Ohio was a state even without the 1953 resolution. The statehood admission process was somewhat casual in 1803; it required no formal resolution of admission.
 
  • #3
Ivan Seeking
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From a US Constitution site:
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

Comment added: Congress cannot pass a law that declares a person guilty of a crime or that makes an action in the past illegal.
Ex Post Facto Laws

Scope of the Provision .--This clause, like the cognate restriction imposed on the Federal Government by Sec. 9, relates only to penal and criminal legislation and not to civil laws that affect private rights adversely. 1815 There are three categories of ex post facto laws: those ''which punish[] as a crime an act previously committed, which was innocent when done; which make[] more burdensome the punishment for a crime, after its commission; or which deprive[] one charged with crime of any defense available according to law at the time when the act was committed.'' 1816 The bar is directed only against legislative action and does not touch erroneous or inconsistent decisions by the courts. 1817 Even though a law is ex post facto and invalid as to crimes committed prior to its enactment, it is nonetheless valid as to subsequent offenses. 1818 If it mitigates the rigor of the law in force at the time the crime was committed, 1819 or if it merely penalizes the continuance of conduct lawfully begun before its passage, the statute is not ex post facto. Thus, measures penalizing the failure of a railroad to cut drains through existing embankments 1820 or making illegal the continued possession of intoxicating liquors which were lawfully acquired 1821 have been held valid.


Denial of Future Privileges to Past Offenders .--The right to practice a profession may be denied to one who was convicted of an offense before the statute was enacted if the offense reasonably may be regarded as a continuing disqualification for the profession. Without offending the Constitution, statutes barring a person from practicing medicine after conviction of a felony 1822 or excluding convicted felons from waterfront union offices, unless pardoned or in receipt of a parole board's good conduct certificate, 1823 may be enforced against a person convicted before the measures were passed. But the test oath prescribed after the Civil War, whereby office holders, teachers, or preachers were required to swear that they had not participated in the Rebellion, was held invalid on the ground that it had no reasonable relation to fitness to perform official or professional duties, but rather was a punishment for past offenses. 1824 A similar oath required of suitors in the courts also was held void. 1825


Changes in Punishment .--Statutes that changed an indeterminate sentence law to require a judge to impose the maximum sentence, whereas formerly he could impose a sentence between the minimum and maximum, 1826 required criminals sentenced to death to be kept thereafter in solitary confinement, 1827 or allowed a warden to fix, within limits of one week, and keep secret the time of execution, 1828 were held to be ex post facto as applied to offenses committed prior to their enactment. Because it made more onerous the punishment for crimes committed before its enactment, a law, a law that altered sentencing guidelines to make it more likely the sentencing authority would impose on a defendant a more severe sentence than was previously likely and making it impossible for the defendant to challenge the sentence was ex post facto as to one who had committed the offense prior to the change. 1829 But laws providing heavier penalties for new crimes thereafter committed by habitual criminals, 1830 changing the punishment from hanging to electrocution, fixing the place therefor in the penitentiary, and permitting the presence of a greater number of invited witnesses, 1831 or providing for close confinement of six to nine months in the penitentiary, in lieu of three to six months in jail prior to execution, and substituting the warden for the sheriff as hangman, have been sustained. 1832


In Dobbert v. Florida, 1833 the Court may have formulated a new test for determining when a criminal statute vis-a-vis punishment is ex post facto. Defendant murdered two of his children; at the time of the commission of the offenses, Florida law provided the death penalty upon conviction for certain takings of life. Subsequent to the commission of the capital offenses, the Supreme Court held laws similar to Florida's unconstitutional to the extent that death was a sentence under them, although convictions obtained under the statutes were not to be overturned, 1834 and the Florida Supreme Court voided its death penalty statutes on the authority of the High Court decision. The Florida legislature then enacted a new capital punishment law, which was sustained. Dobbert was convicted and sentenced to death under the new law, which was enacted after the commission of his offenses. The Court rejected the ex post facto challenge to the sentence on the basis that whether the old statute was constitutional or not, ''it clearly indicated Florida's view of the severity of murder and of the degree of punishment which the legislature wished to impose upon murderers. The statute was intended to provide maximum deterrence, and its existence on the statute books provided fair warning as to the degree of culpability which the State ascribed to the act of murder.'' 1835 Whether the ''fair warning'' standard is to have any prominent place in ex post facto jurisprudence may be an interesting question but it is problematical in any event whether the fact situation will occur often enough to make the principle applicable in very many cases.


Changes in Procedure .--An accused person does not have a right to be tried in all respects in accordance with the law in force when the crime charged was committed. 1836 Laws shifting the place of trial from one county to another, 1837 increasing the number of appellate judges and dividing the appellate court into divisions, 1838 granting a right of appeal to the State, 1839 changing the method of selecting and summoning jurors, 1840 making separate trials for persons jointly indicted a matter of discretion for the trial court rather than a matter of right, 1841 and allowing a comparison of handwriting experts 1842 have been sustained over the objection that they were ex post facto. It was said or suggested in a number of these cases, and two decisions were rendered precisely on the basis, that the mode of procedure might be changed only so long as the substantial rights of the accused were not curtailed. 1843 The Court has now disavowed this position. 1844 All that the language of most of these cases meant was that a legislature might not evade the ex post facto clause by labeling changes as alteration of ''procedure.'' If a change labeled ''procedural'' effects a substantive change in the definition of a crime or increases punishment or denies a defense, the clause is invoked; however, if a law changes the procedures by which a criminal case is adjudicated, the clause is not implicated, regardless of the increase in the burden on a defendant. 1845
From Findlaw:
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/article01/53.html


I would say that Straightdope has it right.
 

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