Bill of Attainder

MSNBC – Congress reaches deal in Schiavo legal battle
Congressional leaders announced a compromise between Senate and House Republicans that would allow the brain-damaged woman’s case to be reviewed by federal courts that could restore her feeding tube. Opposition waned after House leaders agreed to give up broader legislation and accept a narrowly crafted bill that applied only to Schiavo’s case.

Bill of Attainder:

Definition: A legislative act that singles out an individual or group for punishment without a trial.
The Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 9, paragraph 3 provides that: “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed.”
My view of constitutional law might be fuzzy,but doesn’t Congress’ involvement in the tragedy of the Schiavo case come awfully close, or go over the line, of being a Bill of Attainder?

One thought on “Bill of Attainder”

  1. I think the Republicans would argue not because they don’t feel they’re punishing Terri Schiavo. I’m pretty sure private bills designed to aid a single person don’t count, because ISTR there are cases like that in immigration law, where a law is passed to give a single individual a benefit (say, a person who technically doesn’t qualify for asylyum or for naturalization).
    I tend to think of attainder as being about the stripping of rights, which is a more medieval context for it, but is probably closer to what the Founders intended.

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