Yesterday, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) argued a case challenging Congress's unconstitutional defunding of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). The case charges Congress with violating the Bill of Attainder provision in the U.S. Constitution, violating the Fifth Amendment right to due process, and infringing on the First Amendment right to freedom of association by targeting affiliated and allied organizations, as well.
CCR attorneys say members of Congress violated the Constitution by declaring an organization guilty of a crime and punishing it and its members without benefit of a trial. As I reported in last December CCR won in both earlier court appearances and yesterday defended the wins before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. The gallery was packed with Acorn's supporters.
Said CCR Cooperating Attorney Jules Lobel, "Congress cannot act as judge, jury, and executioner. We have due process in this country, and our Constitution forbids lawmakers from singling out a person or group for punishment without a fair investigation and trial. Congress, as well as individuals and organizations must abide by the rule of law."
The lawsuit seeks to stop Congress from singling out an organization for punishment without proper investigation or due process. The plaintiffs are ACORN, the ACORN Institute, and the New York ACORN Housing Company. The suit is ACORN v. USA and was filed in federal court in the Eastern District of New York.
CCR Attorney Darius Charney said, "We are used to seeing political grandstanding in Congress, but when it crosses the line into violating the Constitution, it has to stop. Big banks, pharmaceutical companies, and private government contractors that have skirted the law are rewarded with bailouts, tax credits, and billions of dollars in new contracts. Even BP is getting our tax dollars. Companies with multiple criminal convictions remain in favor, while Congress, without a shred of due process, joined in the scapegoating of an organization that helps average Americans going through hard times to get homes, pay their taxes, and vote. Who's next?"
The argument comes on the heels of a June 15 preliminary probe by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) of ACORN. Known as the government watchdog, the GAO found no evidence the association or related organizations mishandled the $40 million in federal money they received in recent years.
The Attorney General's office refuses to explain to ACORN's attorneys why it continues to vigorously prosecute this case. In fact, the government's attorneys refuse talk to ACORN's attorneys other than on matters of procedure.