Writ of attainder

A bill of attainder is an act of a legislature declaring a person, or a group of persons, guilty of some crime, and punishing them, often without a trial. Also known as a “bill of attainder.”

Historically, British parliaments had frequently acted in a judicial capacity and often in ways that tyrannized their opposition. This lack of separation of powers was a major concern to the framers of the Constitution, so much so that they banned its use at both the federal and state levels of government. (See Article 1, Sections 9 and 10.)

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