You’ve got to say one thing about Acorn: it has chutzpah. After all, these are the folks who once sued to avoid paying the minimum wage to their own workers. These are the people who turned the Community Reinvestment Act into a classic shakedown operation, scoring numerous corporate pay-offs in order to lift Acorn’s objections to bank mergers. And, of course, these are the activists who freely dispensed advice on how to run brothels with underage, illegal immigrants while concealing the proceeds.
Still, they are upset that Congress cut off their money. I mean, who doesn’t get a government check these days!? How insulting!
Not only is it insulting, it’s unconstitutional!!
Reports the New York Times:
The antipoverty group Acorn filed a lawsuit against the federal government on Thursday, saying that the House violated the Constitution by passing a resolution barring the group from receiving federal aid.
In the lawsuit, filed in United States District Court in Brooklyn, Acorn asks that its federal financing be restored.
The suit says that the House resolution constitutes a “bill of attainder,” or a legislative determination of guilt without a trial. Acorn, which came under fire after a series of embarrassing scandals, says 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 class for first-time homebuyers in New York that enrolled 100 people in September enrolled only 7 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 argument really is too silly to refute. Once it votes money, Congress isn’t allowed to defund any organization in the future until, what, a full-scale trial? Or does that principle apply only if the organization has misused the cash? In contrast, the Red Cross could be defunded tomorrow because it hasn’t gone around advising would-be pimps and prostitutes? Or does this rule apply only to left-wing groups whose misdeeds were caught on tape?
Although the lawsuit shouldn’t be taken seriously, today the Constitution only has the vaguest relevance to the operation of the U.S. government. So who knows how a judge will rule. And if it goes up to the Supreme Court and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the result might depend upon with whom she empathizes on a particular day.