Bills of Attainder
This post speaks to the issue of over-reaching by our federal government as it manipulates situations to get their way and bend the law to do it. According to Article 1, Section 9 of the US Constitution, "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed."
A bill of attainder is one that is aimed at one specific person or group. While it is true that every law that is passed will have some impact either negative or positive towards some group of the population, it seems to me that violation of this article is clear in two recent examples. First is the exemption of over 1000 companies from the recently passed healthcare law. Second is the exemption of General Electric from certain EPA rules.
The origins of this article stem from the American Revolution when a fellow named Parker Wickham was known for his pro-Loyalist views. On December 13, 1777, he was kidnapped by Connecticut rebels while serving out his term in elected office. He was released shortly thereafter, but on October 22, 1779, New York's legislature passed a bill of attainder requiring him to forfeit his property without compensation and banishing him from the state under threat of death. Wickham was forced to move to Connecticut, where he died shortly thereafter. He insisted he was innocent of the charges, but was never granted a trial. Partially as a result of this situation, acts of attainder were banned under the U.S. Constitution, which was adopted a few years after Wickham's death. In any event, it is simply logical that Congress should not be able to pass a law that favors or hurts a particular individual or group. I believe that is exactly what has been happening lately.
A waiver may not appear to be a bill of attainder on it's face because it deals with the after effects of bad law, but when looked at objectively, that is clearly what it is. These waivers are exactly the sort of thing the banning of attainder in Article 1, Section 9 was meant to prevent.
Posted on 03/15/2011 9:57 AM by Jack Massari
8 Aug 2011
You've got it in one. Couldn't have put it better.
15 Mar 2011
There is a principal in the law that "that which you cannot do directly, you cannot do indirectly." You cannot favor or punish one person or group over another = Directly - Bill of Attainder. You cannot accomplish the same action indirectly to circumvent the law = Indirectly - Waiver. We need someone with standing to challenge the waiver.