Monday, July 9, 2012

MBE Fast Fact: Retroactive Legislation

A few important points to keep in mind regarding retroactive legislation (within Constitutional Law) on the MBE:

--The Contract Clause only applies to the states. If the question involves the federal government enacting a law that impairs contract rights, the Contract Clause is not the correct response.

--The prohibition against Ex Post Facto laws applies to both the state and federal government. You'll want to consider the possibility of an Ex Post Facto law if a statute makes criminal an act that was innocent when done, prescribes greater punishment for an act than was prescribed for the act when it was done, or reduces the evidence required to convict a person of a crime from what was required when the act was committed. Note that Ex Post Facto clauses apply only to criminal cases, not civil cases.

--Bills of attainder are legislative acts that inflict punishment on individuals without a judicial trial. Unlike the Contract Clause which applies only to the states, both the federal and state governments are prohibited from passing bills of attainder.

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