Saturday, October 12, 2013

It Is Illegal To Back Pay Furloughed Government Workers

I have tremendous sympathy for workers and households that suddenly find themselves without a paycheck.

I understand the motivation of politicians that do not want to anger future voters when their anger can be easily appeased with taxpayer dollars.

I suspect, despite the hardships, paying furloughed federal workers for not working is illegal and unconstitutional. It is not a payment for services rendered. It is not a payment based on a showing of economic or physical hardship, such as poverty or disability. Safety net programs, such as food stamps and unemployment benefits, are available to furloughed workers. Pay for furloughed time is a gift of taxpayer dollars to a special group. Disbursement of gifts to individuals is not a valid governmental interest.

Since the back pay law is not a law of general applicability, that is the law does not apply to all furloughed workers, just government furloughed workers, or to all persons affected by the government shutdown, just government workers, the law would appear to violate the 5th amendment's equal protection and due process interpretation.

My guess is a back pay law is unconsitutional.

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