Lawmakers barred funding to Acorn last year amid questions about of its use of federal funds and secretly recorded videos in which Acorn employees allegedly offered advice on how to set up brothels and evade taxes to filmmakers posing as a pimp and a prostitute.
Whether something is a Bill of Attainder depends on a three-part test: (1) “specification of the affected persons,” (2) “punishment,” and (3) “lack of a judicial trial.”
In its complaint, the plaintiffs argued that the appropriations laws violated the First Amendment, the Due Process Clause, and the Bill of Attainder Clause.
the District Court again declined to reach the plaintiffs’ First Amendment and due process claims in light of its determination that the challenged laws were bills of attainder.
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Defund ACORN Act'.
SEC. 2. PROHIBITIONS ON FEDERAL FUNDS AND OTHER ACTIVITIES WITH RESPECT TO CERTAIN INDICTED ORGANIZATIONS.
(a) Prohibitions- With respect to any covered organization, the following prohibitions apply:
(1) No Federal contract, grant, cooperative agreement, or any other form of agreement (including a memorandum of understanding) may be awarded to or entered into with the organization.
(2) No Federal funds in any other form may be provided to the organization.
(3) No Federal employee or contractor may promote in any way (including recommending to a person or referring to a person for any purpose) the organization.
(1) whether the challenged statute falls within the historical meaning of legislative punishment (historical test of 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” (functional test of punishment); and
(3) whether the legislative record “evinces a [legislative] intent to punish” (motivational test of punishment).
No. Please do not engage in straw man arguments. The problem here is that the legal concept of a bill of attainder does not extend to circumstances where a property interest is not violated.
Nobody at all here is arguing that the proscription against bills of attainder shouldn't apply to ACORN.
Well, I think the cases are easily distinguishable along numerous lines.
Maybe you can explain how this case differs from Brown above. Surely one has even less of a right to hold union office than one does to be considered for an SBA loan.
(a) It is not a mere appropriation measure over which Congress has complete control. P. 328 U. S. 313.
(b) Its purpose was not merely to cut off the employees' compensation through regular disbursing channels, but permanently to bar them from government service, except as jurors or soldiers -- because of what Congress thought of their political beliefs. P. 328 U. S. 313.
Blackwater (rebranded as Xe in an effort to escape the negative publicity associated with their former name), recently received a $100 million contract from the CIA to secure its bases in Afghanistan. The State Department also awarded them $120 million to provide security for new diplomatic buildings, including consulates outside Kabul, giving the firm a total of $220 million in new contracts in Afghanistan. This seems remarkable, given the extremely negative image Blackwater has throughout the world. That people even know about a private security company is a bad sign in itself. Not surprisingly, CIA Director Leon Panetta had to go on the offensive to defend the contracts.
The withholding of appropriations, however, does not constitute a traditional form of punishment that is “considered to be punitive per se.” See Con. Edison, 292 F.3d at 351. Congress’s decision to withhold funds from ACORN and its affiliates constitutes neitherimprisonment, banishment, nor death. The withholding of funds may arguably constitute a punitive confiscation of property at some point, but the plaintiffs do not assert that they have property rights to federal funds that have yet to be disbursed at the agency’s discretion. We note, further, that “[t]here may well be actions that would be considered punitive if taken against an individual, but not if taken against a corporation.” Id. at 354. In comparison to penalties levied against individuals, a temporary disqualification from funds or deprivation of property aimed at a corporation may be more an inconvenience than punishment. While ACORN claims that it will be “drive[n] close to bankruptcy” and may suffer a “corporate death sentence” without federal funds, the Harshbarger Report reveals that ACORN only derives 10% of its funding from federal grants. Thus, we doubt that the direct consequences of the appropriations laws temporarily precluding ACORN from federal funds are “so disproportionately severe” or “so inappropriate”as to constitute punishment per se. See Nixon, 433 U.S. at 472 (“Forbidden legislative punishment is not involved merely because the Act imposes burdensome consequences.”).
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