Black's Law Dictionary,
Sixth Edition, p. 165:
Bill of attainder.
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.
United States v. Brown, 381 U.S. 437, 448-49, 85 S.Ct. 1707, 1715, 14
L.Ed. 484, 492; United States v. Lovett, 328 U.S. 303, 315, 66 S.Ct.
1073, 1079, 90 L.Ed. 1252. An act is a "bill of attainder" when
the punishment is death and a "bill of pains and penalties" when the
punishment is less severe; both kinds of punishment fall within the
scope of the constitutional prohibition. U.S.Const. Art.
I, Sect 9, Cl. 3 (as to Congress);' Art. I, Sec, 10 (as to state legislatures).
[Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 165]
IMPLICATIONS OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL
PROHIBITION AGAINST BILLS OF ATTAINDER:
The U.S. Congress cannot pass or impose and the IRS cannot enforce the
imposition of financial penalties for not abiding with the tax laws
against a natural person without the need for a judicial hearing.
shall pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing
the obligation of contracts.'" A bill of attainder is a legislative
act which inflicts punishment without a judicial trial.
punishment be less than death, the act is termed a bill of pains and
penalties. Within the meaning of the Constitution, bills of attainder
include bills of pains and penalties. In these cases the legislative
body, in addition to its legitimate functions, exercises the powers
and office of judge; it assumes, in the language of the text-books,
judicial magistracy; it pronounces upon the guilt of the party, without
any of the forms or safeguards of trial; it determines the sufficiency
of the proofs produced, whether conformable to the rules of evidence
or otherwise; and it fixes the degree of punishment in accordance with
its own notions of the enormity of the offence.
best available evidence, the writings of the architects of our constitutional
system, indicates that 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."
States v. Brown, 381 U.S. 437 (1965)]
The judicial functions exercised by Article III courts cannot be performed by Congress nor delegated
to agencies under its supervision and control. FN6 The bill of *601 attainder is banned by Art. I, s 9. If there is to be punishment,
courts (in the constitutional sense) must administer it. As we stated in United States v. Lovett, 328 U.S. 303, 317, 66 S.Ct. 1073, 1079,
90 L.Ed. 1252:
FN6. The limitations on Article III courts that distinguish them from Article I
courts were stated by Chief Justice Vinson in National Mut. Insurance Co. v. Tidewater Transfer Co., 337 U.S.
582, 629-630, 69 S.Ct. 1173, 1201, 93 L.Ed. 1556, in words
that have, I think, general acceptance, though on the precise
issue he wrote in dissent:
‘In Keller v. Potomac Electric Power Co., 1923, 261 U.S. 428, 43
S.Ct. 445, 67 L.Ed. 731, where this Court had before it
an Act under which the courts of the District of Columbia were
given revisory power over rates set by the Public Utilities
Commission of the District, the appellee sought to sustain the
appellate jurisdiction given this Court by the Act on the basis
that ‘Although Art. III of the Constitution limits the jurisdiction
of the federal courts, this limitation is subject to the power
of Congress to enlarge the jurisdiction, where such enlargement
may reasonably be required to enable Congress to exercise the
express powers conferred upon it by the Constitution.’ 261 U.S. at page 435, 43 S.Ct. 445, 67 L.Ed. 731. There,
as here, the power relied upon was that given Congress to exercise
exclusive jurisdiction over the District of Columbia, and to
make all laws necessary and proper to carry such powers into
effect. But this Court clearly and unequivocally rejected the
contention that Congress could thus extend the jurisdiction
of constitutional courts, citing the note to Hayburn's Case, 1792, 2 Dall. 409, 410, 1 L.Ed. 436; United States v. Ferreira, 1851, 13 How. 40, note 52, 14 L.Ed.
42 and Gordon v. United States, 1864, 117 U.S. 697. These
and other decisions of this Court clearly condition the power
of a constitutional court to take cognizance of any cause upon
the existence of a suit instituted according to the regular
course of judicial procedure, Marbury v. Madison, 1803, 1 Cranch 137, 2 L.Ed. 60, the
power to pronounce a judgment and carry it into effect between
persons and parties who bring a case before it for decision, Muskrat v. United States, 1910, 219 U.S. 346, 31 S.Ct. 250,
55 L.Ed. 246; Gordon v. United States, supra, the absence
of revisory or appellate power in any other branch of Government,
Hayburn's Case, supra; United States v. Ferreira, supra, and
the absence of administrative or legislative issues or controversies,
Keller v. Potomac Electric Power Co., supra; Postum Cereal Co. v. California Fig Nut Co., 1927, 272 U.S.
693, 47 S.Ct. 284, 71 L.Ed. 478.'
‘Those who wrote our Constitution well knew the danger inherent
in special legislative acts which take away the life, liberty, or
property of particular named persons, because**1500 the legislature thinks them guilty of conduct which deserves punishment.
They intended to safeguard the people of this country from punishment
without trial by duly constituted courts.’
Moreover, when an
Article III court of law acts, there is a precise procedure that
must be followed:
‘An accused in court
must be tried by an impartial jury, has a right to be represented
by counsel, he must be clearly informed of the charge against him,
the law which he is charged with violating must have been passed
before he committed the act charged, he must be confronted by the
witnesses against him, he must not be compelled to incriminate himself,
he cannot twice be put in jeopardy for the same offense, and even
after conviction no cruel and unusual punishment can be inflicted
upon him.’ Id., 317-318, 66 S.Ct. at 1080.
Co. v. Zdanok, 370 U.S. 530, 82 S.Ct. 1459 (U.S.App.D.C. 1962)]
Young v. IRS, 596 F.Supp.
141 (N.D.Inc. 9/25/1984)
also contains allegations that the plaintiff was somehow subject to
a bill of attainder. The factual basis for this claim is completely
absent from the complaint or any of plaintiff's other numerous documents.
It is clear, however, that plaintiff's claim does not fall under the
current interpretation of the bill of attainder clause of the constitution.
A bill of attainder is generally defined as a legislative act which
determines guilt and punishes an identifiable individual or group of
individuals. See Nixon v. Administrator of General Services, 433 U.S.
425, 468, 97 S.Ct. 2777, 2802, 53 L.Ed.2d 867 (1977). Here, at least
two of these three elements are not present. First, the Internal Revenue
Code does not determine guilt. Although it authorizes the assessment
of taxes and penalties, those assessments can be challenged in the tax
court or in the district court. Thus, an assessment is not a conclusive
determination of "guilt." Secondly, the tax laws do not punish. The
mere fact that a law is burdensome does not make it punishment for bill
of attainder purposes. See Nixon, id. at 470-71, 97 S.Ct. at 2804. An
assessment of penalties for failure to file income tax returns may be
punishment, but the fact that the penalties can be challenged on appeal
means that the punishment is not final. The third element, selection
of an individual or group of individuals, is not present, as the tax
laws apply to all income earners and the penalty provisions apply to
all taxpayers who fail to file. Such a blanket application to the population
excludes the possibility of a "selection." It is thus clear that no
bill of attainder or bill of pains and penalties (which is simply a
lesser form of a bill of attainder) exists here.
it is abundantly clear that the tax laws apply with full force to plaintiff,
and that his arguments are without any basis in the law. It is also
clear that the exhibits offered to support his argument (in particular,
the Congressional Research Service letter discussed above) undercut
his argument, and in fact support the conclusion that the tax laws are
positive law which apply to the plaintiff. It is in light of this obvious
lack of merit in plaintiff's argument that the court now turns to defendants'
motion for fees and costs.
v. IRS, 596 F.Supp. 141 (N.D.Inc. 9/25/1984)]