22 Sw. U. L. Rev. 1077 (1992-1993)
Unconstitutional Bills of Attainder or Valid Impeachment Convictions: The Walter Nixon and Alcee Hastings Impeachment Cases

handle is hein.journals/swulr22 and id is 1087 raw text is: UNCONSTITUTIONAL BILLS OF
ATTAINDER OR VALID
IMPEACHMENT CONVICTIONS?:
THE WALTER NIXON AND
ALCEE HASTINGS IMPEACHMENT
CASES
Victor Williamst
In [bill of attainder] cases, the legislature assumes judicial magis-
tracy, pronouncing upon the guilt of the party without any of the com-
mon forms and guards of trial, and satisfying itself with proofs, when
such proofs are within its reach, whether they are conformable to the
rules of evidence, or not. . . . [T]he legislature exercises the highest
power of sovereignty, .. . being governed solely by what it deems polit-
ical necessity or expediency, and too often under the influence of un-
reasonable fears or unfounded suspicions.'
Those who wrote our Constitution well knew the danger inherent
in special legislative acts which take away the life, liberty or property
of particular named persons, because the legislature thinks them guilty
of conduct which deserves punishment .... And so they proscribed
bills of attainder.2
I. INTRODUCTION
For the first time in our nation's history, the Supreme Court has
reviewed the process used by the Senate in exercising its sole Power to
t Assistant Professor of Law, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of
New York. B.A. Ouachita University, 1980; M.A.T. National-Louis University, 1982; M.Ed.
Harvard University, 1984; Cert. of Comp. Oxford University, 1987; J.D. University of California,
Hastings College of the Law, 1990. The author gratefully acknowledges support from the City Uni-
versity of New York Research Initiative Grant.
1. JUSTICE JOSEPH STORY, COMMENTARIES ON THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED
STATES  1344, at 215-17 (Melville M. Bigelow, 5th ed. 1891).
2. United States v. Lovett, 328 U.S. 303, 317-18 (1946).

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