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The conclusion of the executive summary, written by CRS legislative attorney Kenneth R. Thomas [paragraph breaks are added for clarity]:
"While the regulatory purpose of ensuring that federal funds are properly spent is a legitimate one,
it is not clear that imposing a permanent government-wide ban on contracting with or providing grants to ACORN fits that purpose."
"Thus, there may be issues raised by characterizing this legislation as purely regulatory in nature. While the Supreme Court has noted that the courts will generally defer to Congress as to the regulatory purpose of a statute absent clear proof of punitive intent, there appear to be potential issues raised withattempting to find a rational non-punitive regulatory purpose for this legislation."
Thus, it appears that a court may have a sufficient basis to overcome the presumption of constitutionality, and find that it violates the prohibition against bills of attainder."
Originally posted by finemanm
A “bill of attainder” is a legislative act which inflicts punishment without judicial trial and includes any legislative act which takes away the life, liberty or property of a particular named or easily ascertainable person or group of persons because legislature thinks them guilty of conduct which deserves punishment. Cummings v. Missouri, U.S.Mo.1866, 71 U.S. 277, 18 L.Ed. 356, 4 Wall. 277. See, also, Bauer v. Acheson, D.C.D.C.1952, 106 F.Supp. 445.
the Bill of Attainder Clause was intended not as a narrow, technical (and therefore soon to be outmoded) prohibition, but rather as an implementation of the separation of powers, a general safeguard against legislative exercise of the judicial function, or more simply-trial by legislature.
If the bill made it a crime to do business with ACORN, or if it required ACORN to surrender its offices to the federal government, or if it sought to make membership in ACORN illegal, then it would be unconstitutional. However, by merely making this organization ineligible for federal grant money, congress isn’t punishing ACORN because ACORN can keep doing what it does, it will just need to get private donations instead of our tax dollars.
Here, ACORN is not being punished, nor is anything that BELONGS to them being taken away. The Federal government has in essence decided to fire them. There is no constitutional guarantee to employment by the federal government. By MadCow's reasoning, anytime the Congress decided to stop funding a grant or an organization, it would be unconstitutional.
Originally posted by memarf1
We cannot pick and choose the parts of the Constitution that we want to use or ignore, we must consider it a line in the sand!
In deciding whether a statute inflicts forbidden punishment, we have recognized three necessary inquiries: (1) whether the challenged statute falls within the historical meaning of legislative punishment; (2) whether the statute, “viewed in terms of the type and severity of burdens imposed, reasonably can be said to further nonpunitive legislative purposes”; and (3) whether the legislative record “evinces a congressional intent to punish.”
~~ snip ~~
At common law, bills of attainder often imposed the death penalty; lesser punishments were imposed by bills of pains and penalties. The Constitution proscribes these lesser penalties as well as those imposing death. Historically used in England in times of rebellion or “violent political excitements,” ibid., bills of pains and penalties commonly imposed imprisonment, banishment, and the punitive confiscation of property. In our own country, the list of punishments forbidden by the Bill of Attainder Clause has expanded to include legislative bars to participation by individuals or groups in specific employments or professions.
“The fact that harm is inflicted by governmental authority does not make it punishment. Figuratively speaking all discomforting action may be deemed punishment because it deprives of what otherwise would be enjoyed. But there may be reasons other than punitive for such deprivation.”