ACORN has sued the federal government, charging that Congress and President Obama’s efforts to stop federal funding are unconstitutional because they single out the group as bad actors.
The suit, filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, says some members of Congress are intent on punishing the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now for the work of a few bad actors who used to work for the group.
In its stopgap spending measures to fund the government, Congress banned ACORN from getting any money from federal contracts. ACORN received at least $53 million since 1994.
“All this without a hearing and with no judicial adjudication of guilt,” ACORN said in its suit. ACORN said being singled out amounts to a bill of attainder, an ancient legal concept that deems a single person or entity guilty and worthy of punishment by legislation. Bills of attainder are prohibited by the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.
Lawmakers have rejected the charge, saying neither ACORN nor any other group is entitled to federal funding.
But a Congressional Research Service Report that looked at amendments that passed on other spending bills defunding ACORN said there could be problems. The report said it depends on what motivated members of Congress.
ACORN has come under fire recently after conservative activists posed as a prostitute and pimp and, while on hidden camera, captured ACORN employees giving advice on how to avoid taxes. Other organization employees have been indicted on voter registration fraud charges.
ACORN says Congress hasn’t targeted any other federal contractors for their bad behavior.
The suit names the secretaries of the Treasury and Housing and Urban Development departments, as well as the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.
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