United States v. Munoz-Flores Page 20

United States v. Munoz-Flores general information

Media for United States v. Munoz-Flores

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 20, 1990 in United States v. Munoz-Flores

Antonin Scalia:

The government doesn't pass any statute that isn't purportedly for the... for the common good, not for the--

William C. Bryson:

--Well, it is--


William C. Bryson:

--It was deemed to be the common good to benefit this particular class of individuals.

It was the class that was unknowable in advance.

Antonin Scalia:

That's all that she was saying about the earlier cases that... that, sure, they... they benefitted all the people ultimately but proximately they benefitted the banks.

William C. Bryson:

Well, but proximately, we submit that... that it didn't benefit the banks.

The banks happened to achieve a general benefit of being able to participate in a more efficient system.

But it was not a case in which they were getting something for which they were paying and getting full value for what they were paying.

They were supporting a system that was a nationwide currency system that was having some marginal benefit to them no doubt.

But basically it was for the purpose of benefitting all the people.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

You... you cannot characterize this as using the courts to aid victims?

William C. Bryson:

It is in a sense using the courts to aid victims in that the courts are one of the agencies that collects the money that ultimately goes to the victim.

But it is Congress that has set up a system under which the victims are to be the beneficiaries and the defendants are to be the people who are supporting, in part, this program.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

So this is not like a user fee... the use of the courts, even though it's involuntary.

It's somewhat twisted--

William C. Bryson:

I think not good use of the courts.

It is a fee imposed on people who impose costs on others just as in my example, the fee charged to people who use the national park in order to clean up the litter that they have left.

The sunset provisions of the Act were designed, as the legislative history makes clear, not to allow all this money to go into the treasury at the end of X period of time, but to enforce... to force Congress to reconsider the statute.

William H. Rehnquist:

Thank you.

Mr. Bryson.

The case is submitted.