[Latin, "After-the-fact" laws.] Laws that provide for the infliction of punishment upon a person for some prior act that, at the time it was committed, was not illegal. In Carpenter, the Court noted that the esteemed legal theorist Sir William Blackstone (1723–80) had described ex post facto in criminal terms. Only one state, Alaska, has found such a law unconstitutional (Rowe v.

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As Alexander Hamilton observed, "[I]t is easy for men … The Court in Calder ruled that the Connecticut resolution did not constitute an ex post facto law because it did not affect a vested property right. However, in 1854, faced with another opportunity to define ex post facto, the Court retreated from Fletcher and limited the prohibition to retroactively applied criminal laws (Carpenter v. Since the Carpenter ruling, the Supreme Court has struck down some retroactive civil laws, but only those intended to have a punitive intent.

to be zealous advocates for the rights of the citizens when they are invaded by others, and as soon as they have it in their power, to become the invaders themselves." The desire to thwart abuses of power also inspired the Framers of the Constitution to prohibit bills of attainder, which are laws that inflict punishment on named individuals or on easily ascertainable members of a group without the benefit of a trial. In other words, no one had complete ownership of the property in the will, so depriving persons of the property did not violate the ex post facto clause. This construction of the Ex Post Facto Clause has done little more than raise another question: What is punitive intent?

Both ex post facto laws and bills of attainder deprive those subject to them of of law—that is, of notice and an opportunity to be heard before being deprived of life, liberty, or property. The Court went on to list situations that it believed the clause did address.

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