03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Grayson Shreds Republican On Constitutional Question

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) dispensed with the typical Congressional niceties Wednesday at a House science and technology markup, when he dismantled a Republican provision targeting ACORN on constitutional grounds.

Refusing to yield his time to allow Republican Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia to escape his line of questioning, Grayson persisted in establishing that Broun's provision was a constitutionally-prohibited bill of attainder, a law which punishes a particular individual or group -- in this case, denying federal funds -- without benefit of a trial.

The tense exchange was unusual among members of Congress, and nervous laughter filled the committee chamber after the second of three times Grayson refused to yield.


When the House first defunded ACORN last month, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) picked up on the constitutional problems with the legislation. Grayson also noticed that the bill was written so broadly as to defund the entire military-industrial complex and got that language read into the legislative record.

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