Skip to comments.Republican ACORN Amendment is Flatly Unconstitutional & Threatens any Org. Disliked by Congress
Posted on 09/18/2009 3:19:16 PM PDT by Uncledave
WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, denounced a Republican Amendment adopted by the House of Representatives to deny all federal funds to ACORN as blatantly unconstitutional and a threat to unpopular organizations everywhere. The Republican initiative, entitled the Defund ACORN Act, singles out a specific organization by name for exclusion from participating in any federal program, in direct violation of the Constitutions prohibition against Bills of Attainder.
Todays Republican Amendment is in blatant violation of the Constitutions prohibition against Bills of Attainder, said Nadler. Congress must not be in the business of punishing individual organizations or people without trial, and thats what this Amendment does. Whatever one may think of an organization, the Constitutions clear ban on Bills of Attainder is there for the protection of all of our liberties.
The Supreme Court, in decisions dating back to the Civil War era, has held that the Constitution prohibits all legislative acts, no matter what their form, that apply either to named individuals or to easily ascertainable members of a group in such a way as to inflict punishment on them without a judicial trial . During the McCarthy era, for example, Congress enacted legislation prohibiting the use of funds to pay the salaries of three federal employees who Congress deemed subversive. The Supreme Court ruled this legislation unconstitutional as a Bill of Attainder.
This Amendment, in addition to being clearly unconstitutional, sets a dangerous precedent of Congress punishing politically disfavored groups without any due process.
As Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee charged with defending the Constitution, Nadler spoke out on the House floor against the Republican Amendment, delivering the following statement:
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A little while ago, the House passed an amendment to the bill that we were considering that says no contract or federal funds may ever go to ACORN, a named organization, or to any individual or organization affiliated with ACORN. Unfortunately, this was done in the spirit of the moment and nobody had the opportunity to point out that this is a flat violation of the Constitution, constituting a Bill of Attainder. The Constitution says that Congress shall never pass a Bill of Attainder. Bills of Attainder, no matter what their form, apply either to a named individual or to easily ascertainable members of a group, to inflict punishment. Thats exactly what this amendment does.
It may be that ACORN is guilty of various infractions, and, if so, it ought to be vetted, or maybe sanctioned, by the appropriate administrative agency or by the judiciary. Congress must not be in the business of punishing individual organizations or people without trial.
Thats what this Amendment did. It is flatly prohibited by the Constitution, and once we ignore the Constitution we ignore constitutional principles. Whatever one may think of the subject matter or the organization, the Constitution and the ban on Bills of Attainder are there for the protection of all of our liberties. It is unfortunate that we passed this, and I hope it is removed in the conference committee.
Is such a bill specifically targeting one organization indeed a Bill of Attainder? Are we setting up a situation where a judge could, perhaps rightfully, throw this out? If not, could this establish precedent to be used against us at some point? I could easily envision a scenario where a liberal activist catches some purported screw-up in a sting on a conservative organization and a dem congress uses the acorn precedent to defund them - or worse.
Just want to make sure our side acts smart with this and extracts maximum political damage, yet minimizes any blowback. Right now the dems are running scared from acorn and the word is getting out.
I do recall how after Obama was elected many people around here who strongly supported the Patriot Act under Bush later regretted it when the power was in different hands.
Perhaps this battle shouldn't be fought legislatively but through PR, law enforcement, continued investigations, even RICO, etc.?
If ACORN is defunded legislatively then a corrupt liberal congress can still send the money to any other number of rotten liberal organizations, some of whom would surely be new offshoots of acorn.
Nadler is a Communist agent.
No it threatens any org blatantly breaking multiple laws.
Sorry Jerry. America doesn’t have a Constitution anymore. Just ask BO and his buddy, CAss Sunburn.
Jerrold the Hutt is insane. To refer to this criminal enterprise as “unpopular” is loony leftism at it’s finest.
Not insane...a Communist.
Of course, I have to wonder how he voted on taking the bonuses from execs.
If I had to guess the bills of attainder were just dandy then.
I agree with Nadler, no organization of any sort should be receiving any funding.
It seems like it’s a pretty broad interpretation of “Bills of Attainder”. Cutting off funding to ACORN is different that convicting them and confiscating property without trial.
A bill of attainder (also known as an act or writ of attainder) is an act of the legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime and punishing them without benefit of a trial.
The word “attainder”, meaning “taintedness”, is part of English common law. Under English law, a criminal condemned for a serious crime, whether treason or felony (but not misdemeanor, which referred to less serious crimes), could be declared “attainted”, meaning that his civil rights were nullified: he could no longer own property or pass property to his family by will or testament. His property could consequently revert to the Crown or to the mesne lord. Any peerage titles would also revert to the Crown. The convicted person would normally be punished by judicial execution as well - when a person committed a capital crime and was put to death for it, the property left behind escheated to the Crown or lord rather than being inherited by family. Attainder functioned more or less as the revocation of the feudal chain of privilege and all rights and properties thus granted.
Bills of attainder were sometimes criticized as a convenient way for the King to convict subjects of crimes and confiscate their property without the bother of a trialand without the need for a conviction or indeed any evidence at all.
We shouldn’t be sending taxpayer money to all of these various organizations to begin with imho. Most of them are democrat slush funds used to promote their marxist agendas, elect/re-elect their marxist footsoldiers in government, and to line their own pockets and those that are political allies.
It’s not a bill of attainder.
Cutting off government funding is not a punishment because no one has a right to government funds.
ACORN is still free to get funding from alternative sources and the government is not prohibiting them from doing so.
I do wonder if he’s got a point.
No he doesn’t. The Mafia was not unpopular, they were also a criminal enterprise. When you have an organization being investigated in 16 states and caught on tape aiding child prostitution, it’s time to stop talking about them as if they were politaical. They are criminals. prosecution time.
So it’s ok to single out CEOs based on their income and limit their paychecks but it’s not ok to defund an organization that has how many criminal investigations against it? Not too mention that you have multiple offices where the employees are openly advocating Government fraud and under age prostitution??
Rrrrrright, there was a time where people in elected office were run out of town for a lot less. JFC, what is going on with these politicians...
I say we pass a bill that will defund any agency that is receiving federal money that is caught trying to defraud the tax code.
“Todays Republican Amendment is in blatant violation of the Constitutions prohibition against Bills of Attainder, said Nadler.”
Go Jerry Go! You and Your side’s love affair with Judicial Activism has made America a Nightmare.
Take it to Court under a Bill Of Attainder protest. PLEASE.
Your Useless Legislating from the Bench Activists have staunchly Refused to pay Any attention to Bill of Attainder violations since I can’t remember when.
Hoist with your Own Petard, NADS!
That's what I was thinking.