You might expect a man who graduated from Harvard Law School with honors, and was later a law clerk in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals (1984-85) under Robert Bork, Ruth Ginsburg, and Antonin Scalia to know his stuff concerning the Constitution. And with that kind of background you might also reasonably assume such a man would not suffer fools gladly when presented with an alternate view of reality on U.S. Constitutional matters. Grayson uses the words of William Rehnquist and James Madison to destroy a rather hapless Paul Broun.
This is Rep. Alan Grayson and Rep. Paul Broun discussing a bill to deny funds to one specific named organization in a Science and Technology markup. Such a bill is known as 'a bill of attainder'.
h/t Ministry of Truth for the transcript
Chairman: "Mr. Grayson is recognized."
Grayson: "Thank you. I'd like to ask the gentleman from Georgia a few questions, and I'll yield to him for the purpose of having answers to these questions. Um, does the gentleman from Georgia know what a Bill of Attainder is?"
Broun (R-GA) "A bill of, the answer's yes, in fact it's been very explicitly described by the courts."
Grayson: "What is it?"
Looooooooooooooong pause while Broun looks through notes for an answer
Broun: "The courts have applied a two-pronged test. Number one, whether specific individuals or entities are affected by the statute, Number two, when the legislation affects a quote "punishment" end quote, on those individuals, it serves no legitimate regulatory purpose. "
Grayson: "What, um, does the Constitution says about Bills of Attainder?"
Broun: "Oh, I suggest that this is not a Bill of Attainder. It's, um, certainly does focus on a specific entity, but it does not inflict punishment by any means. In fact. . . "
Grayson: "Will the gentleman from Georgia explain what the Constitution says about Bills of Attainder?"
Outside Voice/another Republican: "Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield for a second? The gentleman from Florida?"
Grayson: "No. I'd like an answer to my question."
Outside Voice/another Republican: "Well, frankly, I can't wait to see the discussion when it comes to . . . . "
Grayson: "I did NOT yield, and I'd like an answer from the gentleman from Georgia to my question, I. . ."
Chairman: "Li, Li, Listen, let's get back to all the time, is Mister, the gentleman from Florida, who will yield to the gentleman from Georgia, will . . ."
Grayson: "Right. What does the Constitution say about Bills of Attainder? It's a simple question."
Broun: "The Constitution says "Congress shall pass no Bills of Attainder" but this is not one . . . "
Grayson: "Alright, now, would you agree with me that it is Unconstitutional to single out one or more persons without the benefit of trial?"
Broun: "Uh, no sir, there is a two-pronged test, this is not a Bill of Attainder, it is . . . "
Grayson: "Alright, well, when I, when I said, I'll reclaim my time. I just quoted William Rehnquist writing the book "The Supreme Court", he wrote that book and said "You cannot single out one or more persons without the benefit of a trial." Will the gentleman agree that Bills of Attainder are contrary to every principle of sound legislation?"
Broun: "The two main criteria which courts would like to look, in order to determine whether legislation is a Bill of Attainder, one is whether a specific individual/entity is affected by extension, number two, whether the legislation affects a punishment to the individuals . . . "
Grayson: "Will the gentleman please tell me whether you agree or not that Bills of Attainder are contrary to every principle of sound legislation?"
Broun: "Bills of Attainder are Unconstitutional."
Grayson: "AND contrary to every principle of sound legislation, is that correct?"
Broun: "That's correct."
Grayson: "Alright. And you know who said that?"
Broun: "Tell me."
Grayson: "James Madison in the Federalist papers."
"Now, do you, does the gentleman agree that the Bill of Attainder clause was intended not as a narrow or technical provision, but rather as an implementation of the separation of powers, and a general safeguard against legislative exercise of the judicial function, or more simply, trial by legislation. Will the gentleman agree with me on that."
Outside Republican: "Will the Gentleman yield?"
Laughter throughout the committee room , then silence. . .
Outside Representative: "Um, the, the, will the gentleman restate the question?"
Grayson: "The question is, will the gentleman from Georgia agree with me that the Bill of Attainder clause was intended not as a narrow or technical provision, but rather as an implementation of the separation of powers, and a general safeguard against legislative exercise of the judicial function, or more simply, trial by legislation. Will the gentleman agree to that?"
Broun: "No, sir, I will not, and I ask counsel to help us with this, I think all this is determination of the court and I'd like to appeal to Mr. Sensenberner (wingnut whose name I refuse to spell correctly)
Grayson: "Well, I'm sorry, but it's my time, not yours or Mr. Sensenberner's, so I will reclaim my time, and I will point out that what you just you would NOT agree to is from a Supreme Court case called the United States V Brown, something I would expect you might know about, given your name."
Outside voice: "Will the gentleman yield?"
One voice laughs
Grayson: "Uh, listen, we, we are trampling on people's Constitutional rights. And I think it's unfortunate that the mania that exists on the other side of the aisle regarding this one organization, and we know why that mania exists, it's because they've registered an awful lot of Democrats, continues to distort and waste the time of this committee and many other committees here in Congress. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! I yield my remaining 5 seconds"