Did Congress Pass A Bill Of Attainder That Denied Visa to Iranian Envoy Who Was Involved in 1979 Hostage Crisis?

April 15th, 2014

The Times reports that both the House and Senate approved a bill “aimed at denying a visa to Iran’s choice for United Nations ambassador” Hamid Aboutalebi, who was alleged to have played a minor role in the 1979 hostage crisis in Tehran. Isn’t this a Bill of Attainder?

The bill, S.2195, introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz, is titled “A bill to deny admission to the United States to any representative to the United Nations who has been found to have been engaged in espionage activities or a terrorist activity against the United States and poses a threat to United States national security interests.” It would prohibit giving a visa to anyone who has been found to “have been engaged in espionage activities or a terrorist activity.”

The bill itself is not targeted directly Hamid Aboutalebi personally, but it would pretty clearly affect a small, small subset of people. So it’s probably not a Bill of Attainder.

The President is unlikely to sign the bill. Though, it was passed unanimously (unanimous Consent in the Senate and without objection in the House), so would we see a veto override?!