United States v. Lovett

328 U.S. 303, 66 S. Ct. 1073 (1946)



A bill of attainder is a legislative act which inflicts punishment without a judicial trial. If the punishment be less than death, the act is termed a bill of pains and penalties. Within the meaning of the U.S. Const. art. I, § 9, cl. 3, bills of attainder include bills of pains and penalties.


As part of its program against subversive activities, the United States House of Representatives created a Committee on Un-American Activities (committee). After an investigation, the committee named certain individuals "subversives" due to the affiliation or association with certain organizations. Appellee employees were among those named individuals. As a result, Congress passed the Urgent Deficiency Appropriation Act of 1943, which prohibited appellees from ever engaging in any government work, except as jurors or soldiers. It also prohibited further payment to them of wages after a certain date. The Court of Claims granted compensation to appellees for work they performed after the date set to cut off their pay in § 304 of the Urgent Deficiency Appropriation Act of 1943 (Act), 57 Stat. 431, 450. Appellant federal government appealed. The Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the judgment.


Was § 304 of the Urgent Deficiency Appropriation Act of 1943, providing that, after November 15, 1943, no salary or other compensation shall be paid to certain employees of the Government out of any monies then or thereafter appropriated except for services as jurors or members of the armed forces, unless they were again appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate prior to such date, a bill of attainder?




The prohibitions were an unconstitutional bill of attainder, prohibited by U.S. Const. art. I, § 9, cl. 3. The Act inflicted punishment on the named individuals without a judicial trial.

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