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ACORN Sues House Over Funding Cuts

From an outraged (at the funding cuts) New York Times:

Acorn Sues Over Funding Vote in House


November 13, 2009

Saying a resolution by the House of Representatives that barred Acorn from receiving federal aid violated the Constitution by singling the antipoverty group out for punishment, lawyers for Acorn filed a lawsuit on Thursday that seeks to restore the financing.

The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court in Brooklyn, says that the Congressional resolution constitutes a “bill of attainder,” or a legislative determination of guilt without a trial. In the suit, Acorn, which came under fire especially from conservative critics after a series of embarrassing scandals, said it was penalized by Congress “without an investigation” and has been forced to cut programs that counsel struggling homeowners, and to lay off workers.

For example, it said, because of budget cutbacks, a first time homebuyer class in New York that enrolled 100 people in September enrolled only seven people in October, after the Congressional action.

“It’s a classic trial by the Legislature,” said Jules Lobel, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which brought the suit. “They have essentially determined the guilt of the organization and any organization affiliated or allied with it.”

The suit represents the first legal response by Acorn to the Congressional action in September, when the House of Representatives added the financing prohibition to a bill on college lending.

Before the vote, the organization had come under heavy criticism by conservative groups amid allegations of voter registration fraud; critics intensified their attacks after Acorn counselors were videotaped giving mortgage advice to activists posing as a pimp and a prostitute interested in setting up a brothel. The counselors were fired.

The Obama administration has also distanced itself from Acorn, which is short for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

Since 1994, the group has received about $53 million in federal aid.

At the time of the House vote, Acorn said the action would have little impact, since the group receives most of its income from members and other supporters. But in the suit, the group said that many of those supporters had cut off their relationships with Acorn, for fear of being tainted.

In an affidavit attached to the lawsuit, Bertha Lewis, the chief executive of Acorn, said she “underestimated” the effect of the resolution. “It gave the green light for others to terminate our funds as well,” she said. “All of our state and local grants were frozen, as were most of our private foundation funds.”

And several applications made by Acorn for contracts with federal agencies have also been rejected, the suit said, including a $780,000 grant for outreach to poor communities about asthma, and an application to set up public computer centers in five different cities.

The law suit names as defendants Timothy F. Geithner, the treasury secretary; Shaun Donovan, the secretary for Housing and Urban development; and Peter R. Orszag, who, as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, enforced the freeze on financing, the suit alleges.

Claims that lawmakers have violated the constitutional prohibition on bills of attainder are difficult to win, because courts have construed the clause as applying to punitive measures, according Michael C. Dorf, a constitutional law professor at Cornell University.

“Even though it’s certainly plausible to infer, given the politics and timing, that there was an aim to punish Acorn,” Professor Dorf said, “the government would undoubtedly defend on the grounds they can choose to fund or not to fund.”

Notice that we have come to such a sense of entitlement that when a group no longer receives government funding they think their rights are being violated and that they are being punished via a bill of attainder.

It’s a shame, but we presume Mr. Obama’s duties will keep him so busy he will not be able to act (once again) as ACORN’s attorney in this matter.

But of course he may be able to help them in other ways.

And speaking of proper legal representation, the Center for Constitutional Rights was founded by unapologetic communists, and they have gone downhill since then.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, November 12th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

12 Responses to “ACORN Sues House Over Funding Cuts”

  1. BillK says:

    But when Congress threatens an actual “bill of attainder”, say by taxing Wall Street firms’ bonus payments at 100%, that’s OK.

  2. Confucius says:

    This is how the left says “thank you.”

  3. Liberals Demise says:

    The youngster throws a tantrum after being kicked off the taxpayers tit.
    Useless bastards!

  4. Chuckk says:

    Can I sue congress to get them to give me a few million?

  5. I’m no lawyer (praise Jesus!), but I think this petulant parasitic nonsense from these NUTS is made moot by the Supremacy Clause, which essentially shields the gub’mint and its agents from this type of retaliation.

    That, and the fact that Congress can fund or de-fund whatever program it so chooses.

    I guess these ACORN PARASITES will simply have to beg, borrow, earn or steal their money from some place else besides the U.S. Treasury – just like everyone else.

  6. eaglewingz08 says:

    So once an organization gets funding it can never be reduced because that’s a bill of attainder? I thought attainders attached your private property. That funding was a privilege not a right. That Congress could cut off funding for any reason or no reason. How can we ever cut any budgets in good times or bad if every time the recipients of such funding go to court claiming such cuts were a bill of attainder.

    The word “attainder”, meaning “taintedness”, is part of English common law. Under English law, a criminal condemned for a serious crime, whether treason or felony (but not misdemeanor, which referred to less serious crimes), could be declared “attainted”, meaning that his civil rights were nullified: he could no longer own property or pass property to his family by will or testament.
    I don’t believe any civil rights of ACORN were nullified. It can still own and rent property and each of its members can still vote (at least once, if not more than one time). It has not lost its incorporated status in any state and private concerns and state governments are still free to fund that organization and the federal government has not seized those fundings.
    This lawsuit is so frivolous that ACORN and its lawyers should be sanctioned, oh but wait, that would be another bill of attainder by the court.

  7. canary says:

    Obama advised Acorn to sue.

  8. pdsand says:

    “It gave the green light for others to terminate our funds as well,” she said. “All of our state and local grants were frozen, as were most of our private foundation funds.”

    The sad part is that this incident is what caused all this to happen. I don’t see how such a small thing should have mattered. The real scandal is right there in ACORN’s mission statement.

    From “Who is ACORN”

    “Issue campaigns: Each ACORN office carries out multiple issue campaigns. ACORN members across the country work to raise the minimum wage or enact living wage policies; eliminate predatory financial practices by mortgage lenders, payday lenders, and tax preparation companies; win the development of affordable housing and community benefits agreements; improve the quality of and funding for urban public schools; rebuild New Orleans; and pass a federal and state ACORN Working Families Agenda, including paid sick leave for all full time workers.

    A recent study shows that our issue campaign victories have delivered approximately $15 billion in direct monetary benefits to our membership and constituency over the past 10 years.

    Service delivery: ACORN and its allied organizations provide extensive services to our members and constituency. These include free tax preparation focusing on the Earned Income Tax Credit; screening for eligibility for federal and state benefit programs; and, through the ACORN Housing Corporation, first time homeowner mortgage counseling and foreclosure prevention assistance, and low income housing development.”

    Err, the government is giving money to a group that aggressively works to help its members to receive more money from the government? They turned $53 million in federal government funds into $15 billion in benefits for its members? And they call themselves a non-profit organization?

  9. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Hear ye, Hear ye, Hear ye,

    To those parties present herewith and all those interested, let it be known that proceedings regarding the matter of ACORN, AKA “Pot” vs. The Federal Government, AKA “Kettle” are now in session.

  10. canary says:

    Why does the government have to prove guilt as to who they give financial aid to.
    At that I thought the refunding of ACORN in general started back up Nov 1, 2009.

  11. GL0120 says:

    The republicans should take a page from ACORN and the democrats playbook; start filing lawsuits against TCO and Company.
    Like the ones filed against Bush, they could tie things up and hopefully bring the spending and power grab to a screeching halt.

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