Defending the Constitution
Articles,  Blog

Defending the Constitution

Mr. Speaker, it is not too often I come to
the floor to oppose an amendment, especially at this late hour. But when I was sworn in as a member of Congress,
I took an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution. I have grave concerns that this amendment
is unconstitutional. The U.S. Constitution expressly prohibits
the federal government from enacting what are known as “bills of attainder.” A bill of attainder is a “law that legislatively
determines guilt and inflicts punishment upon an identifiable individual without provision
of the protections of a judicial trial.” Courts use two main criteria to determine
whether legislation is a “bill of attainder”: (1) whether “specific” individuals are
affected; and (2) whether legislation inflicts “punishment”. Clearly, the specificity prong is met here:
This amendment punitively targets a specific individual – the IRS commissioner. The Supreme Court has held that targeting
specific employees for reduction in pay is “punishment”. Specifically, in United
States v. Lovett, the Supreme Court held that a provision in an appropriations bill which
cut off the pay to certain named government employees was “punishment” and struck
down that provision as unconstitutional. Under this precedent, punitively targeting
the IRS commissioner in an appropriations law by reducing his pay is an unconstitutional
act. Some might claim that because the IRS Commissioner
is appointed, this precedent is somehow not applicable. To the contrary, in Lovett, the
three government employees who had their pay cut were in fact political appointees. Others may claim that because it names an
office rather than an individual it will somehow pass a constitutional test. This is a distinction
without a difference. There is only one “Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.” He is
readily ascertainable. My fellow colleagues, this is NOT about whether
you believe the IRS Commissioner has done a good job or whether you believe he has committed
an impeachable or censurable offense. This is a separate question and this should be
dealt in a separate process. This is not about defending the IRS commissioner;
this is about defending the United States Constitution. We should uphold our oath, we
should defeat this amendment. And I yield back the balance of my time.

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