According to Article 1, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution, bills of attainder and ex post facto laws are unconstitutional. Bills of attainder declare an individual or a group of individuals guilty of crime and assess punishment without a trial. Ex post facto laws make an activity illegal retroactively.Continue Reading
England used bills of attainder commonly during the 18th century, applying them to both Great Britain and the British colonies. It was anger over some of these acts that motivated the colonists to begin the American Revolution. The writers of the constitution made it illegal for Congress to enact such bills in the new nation. James Madison believed bills of attainder and ex post facto laws to be contrary to the new country's underlying social compact and that the people of the United States were wary of public policy that so easily fluctuated.
Ex post facto laws are bills that change the legal status of an activity with retroactive results. In declaring the activity illegal, such laws give the government the right to convict a person of the crime, even though it was committed before the activity became illegal. Other ex post facto laws increase the penalty for a crime, allowing the government to try the individual with the new, stricter law rather than the one in effect when he committed the crime. The Constitution protects citizens from such laws.Learn more about The Constitution
The U.S. Bill of Rights is the accepted term for the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. These amendments created certain protections given to citizens of the United States by the federal government.Full Answer >
The Bill of Rights contained 12 amendment proposals when it was sent to the state legislatures, 10 of which were adopted and became the first 10 amendments of the Constitution. Congress had 14 copies made, one for the federal government and 13 to be distributed among the original 13 states.Full Answer >
The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution as a conciliatory measure between rival ideological factions active during the Constitutional Convention and subsequent state ratification. Most importantly, it addressed individual liberties that were not adequately addressed in the Constitution itself.Full Answer >
The "elastic clause," the colloquial term for the "Necessary and Proper" clause of the U.S. Constitution, is important because the statement gives Congress power to enact laws needed to properly execute its enumerated powers, according to USLegal. For example, this clause gives Congress the right to legislate health care costs since the Affordable Care Act reportedly regulates one aspect, "interstate commerce," according to the UMKC School of Law.Full Answer >