Oh boy – you really, really, really can’t make this stuff up.
After a couple of ACORN employees were entrapped and caught on tape screwing up in an admittedly bad way and were fired for it, there was an epidemic of bandwagon-jumping as Senators and Representatives fell all over themselves in a mad rush to pass legislation to shut off funding for the organization..
Going after ACORN may be like shooting fish in a barrel lately — but jumpy lawmakers used a bazooka to do it last week and may have blown up some of their longtime allies in the process.
The congressional legislation intended to defund ACORN, passed with broad bipartisan support, is written so broadly that it applies to “any organization” that has been charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws, campaign finance laws or filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency. It also applies to any of the employees, contractors or other folks affiliated with a group charged with any of those things.
In other words, the bill could plausibly defund the entire military-industrial complex. Whoops.
Never mind that their impromptu Kabuki theater production was un-Constitutional as hell, amounting to nothing more than a Bill of Attainder. Where they screwed up was in the hoops they jumped through trying to keep it from looking too much like what it was – a law passed to single out a specific entity for the purpose of punishing an organization or putting it out of business. That is precisely what this bill was meant to do, but since the prohibitions against that are spelled out in no uncertain terms in Article I, Section IX of that document some of us swear a sacred oath to die for, they couldn’t be obvious about it.
James Madison, writing as Publius, explained the provision against Bills of Attainder in Federalist 44 in 1788 as the Constitution was being debated and ratified, state by state. “Bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, and laws impairing the obligations of contracts, are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation. … The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils. They have seen with regret and indignation that sudden changes and legislative interferences, in cases affecting personal rights, become jobs in the hands of enterprising and influential speculators, and snares to the more-industrious and less-informed part of the community.”
So to keep from being caught en flagrante delicto screwing the Constitution and our very founding principles, they crafted a very broad law that snared virtually every contractor that does business with the Department of Defense.
I was mad as hell at Claire – she jumped on that bandwagon so fast I was afraid she would end up on the injured reserve list or something. But you know what? She is totally off the hook for that vote if it works out that the mercenaries and contractors who have been ripping us off since, well, since the Truman Committee disbanded – get thrown off the gravy train. Preferably at high speed. And then they should fall over a steep cliff. Also.
I would be totally cool with that…so way to go, Claire!
Crossposted from They Gave Us a Republic