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Ian McColgin
12-13-2009, 11:16 AM
Given how lawless the action was, this was inevitable. I believe ACORN's sins corrigible and this all may have been what they needed to grow up a bit anyway, but it's important to note that the court's action is not a vindication of ACORN but rather is a clear and blunt condemnation of the hysterical process.


Published on Sunday, December 13, 2009 by CommonDreams.org

WHY ACORN WON

by Bill Quigley

On December 11, 2009, a federal judge ruled that Congress had unconstitutionally cut off all federal funds to ACORN. The judge issued an injunction stopping federal authorities from continuing to cut off past, present and future federal funds to the community organization.

ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) and its allies in 75 cities will again have access to millions of federal dollars to counsel people facing foreclosure, seeking IRS tax refunds, and looking for affordable low cost housing. ACORN, which has received about $54 million in government grants since 1994, will be able to apply for new federal programs just like any other organization.

The court ruled that Congress violated the U.S. Constitution by singling out ACORN and its affiliates for severe sweeping restrictions and that such action constitutes illegal punishment or a bill of attainder.

What is a bill of attainder? Even most lawyers have no idea. Bills of attainder are acts of Congress which unilaterally punish an individual or organization. Essentially Congress acts as prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner.

The U.S. Constitution has prohibited bills of attainder since 1787. U.S. founders objected to bills of attainder because in England, Parliament passed many such bills against political enemies, using them to throw people in prison and even execute them without trial.

Congress punished ACORN without even trying to figure out if any laws had been broken or allowing the 500,000 member organization to defend itself.

What about protecting the taxpayers against fraud? As the court pointed out, there are many legal ways for the government to investigate and terminate federal contractors which have been proven to engage in fraud or illegal activity.

But Congress did not want to wait for trials or proof or to allow ACORN due process.

Conservatives developed a voting majority and imposed punishment without a hearing or anything.

ACORN has been a target of right-wing politicians for years. Conservatives hate ACORN primarily because it registered over two million people to vote since 2003 and because it has an overwhelming African American, working class, Democratic-voting, membership.

Fox News is obsessed with ACORN. Google Fox News and ACORN and you will see over two million hits. Google Glenn Beck and ACORN and you get over a million hits, six hundred thousand for Rush, and three hundred thousand for Michelle Malkin.

Right wing members of Congress accused ACORN of being a shell game using millions of taxpayer dollars to advertise for a political candidate and which helped President Obama get elected.

After a highly dubious right-wing sting operation in September, the conservative media machine overran Congress members, including, sadly, many Democrats, and passed the bill of attainder cutting off all federal funds to ACORN and any affiliates, subsidiaries and allies.

Most Congress reps knew full well this was an illegal bill of attainder as it was pointed out in the debates and even by the Congressional Research Office, but voted to let it go through anyway. Representatives Nadler and Grayson and Senator Leahy, among others, repeatedly pointed out that this was unconstitutional. Democrats who voted for the bill of attainder included many who had sought and received help from ACORN members in the past. They have some explaining to do.

Progressives who remained silent while the nation's largest low income African American community organization was under attack also should re-think their lack of support. Did anyone think that if the right-wingers took down Van Jones and ACORN they would stop there?

What is ahead? Surely the conservative opponents of ACORN will continue to bloviate and continue to try to put ACORN out of business. There will likely be fights galore. But with this ruling the fights will be a little fairer.

ACORN won this case. The U.S. Supreme Court has called the prohibition of congressional bills of attainder a bulwark against tyranny. Here the bulwark against tyranny worked to stop the right-wing smear machine.

But the rule of law won too. And all of us and Congress have again been taught a valuable lesson there are no shortcuts when it comes to following the Constitution.

Bill is legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and one of the team who represented ACORN in their successful federal constitutional challenge. You can read the opinion at www.crrjustice.org or contact Bill at quigley77@gmail.com

Phillip Allen
12-13-2009, 01:11 PM
It has always been possible for congress to cut off funding for ANYTHING...it's one of the checks and balances

Ian McColgin
12-13-2009, 01:21 PM
Congress can decline to make an appropriation for any reason, good or bad. Once an appripriation has been made and a conract authorized within that appropriation has been let, there are exact legal processes to terminate the contract.

Given how well the Constitutional issues were addressed at the time, it's hard to know if the right wingers who started the congressional stampeed were too ignorant of US law to realize this would not fly or whether they were so arrogant as to assume that our mostly conservative courts would go along. Same might be asked of the "moderates" who joined this hysterical idiocy.

Amazing how easily manipulated people can be. This is one reason why the judiciary, while always in some sense political, is insulated from the pressure of seeking office. It's rather like a heavy flywheel slowing either the acceleration or deceleration of popular whim.

Phillip Allen
12-13-2009, 01:24 PM
Amazing how easily manipulated people can be. This is one reason why the judiciary, while always in some sense political, is insulated from the pressure of seeking office. It's rather like a heavy flywheel slowing either the acceleration or deceleration of popular whim.

well I certainly agree with people being easily manipulated...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LI_Oe-jtgdI

perldog007
12-13-2009, 02:08 PM
From what little understanding I have on the legal issues, i have to go along with the ruling. If Acorn needs it's funding cut off there is a procedure according to what I have heard reported. Any lawyers here who can opine?

BrianW
12-13-2009, 04:05 PM
A Democratic controlled Congress broke the law, and it's all the Republicans fault. :)

One day liberals will learn to take blame, as well as credit.


In any case... I hope Congress figures out the legal way to stop them, until the outcome of the REAL trial.

perldog007
12-13-2009, 05:59 PM
A Democratic controlled Congress broke the law, and it's all the Republicans fault. :)

One day liberals will learn to take blame, as well as credit.


In any case... I hope Congress figures out the legal way to stop them, until the outcome of the REAL trial.

You know Brian, I am against my party on this one, in that I believe we need some serious investigations into ACORN. But lame as it sounds, I agree with Ian that the rule of law is more important than settling this score quickly.

ishmael
12-13-2009, 06:08 PM
I've never been straight on this. A private lobby was using public funds? How does that happen?

Bruce Hooke
12-13-2009, 06:57 PM
started the congressional stampeed were too ignorant of US law to realize this would not fly or whether they were so arrogant as to assume that our mostly conservative courts would go along.

I rather suspect another explanation...they knew quite well that it was very likely to be overturned by the courts but if they voted for the bill they could tell the voters in their district that they voted to de-fund ACORN (or their opponents could not make an issue of them not voting to de-fund ACORN). It has been shown over and over again that defenses like "I voted against that popular bill because I believed it was unconstitutional" does not get very far against "my opponent voted to continue to spend money on x."

The truly cynical view would add that if the bill was overturned by the courts, those who supported it could get more mileage by claiming that the bill was overturned by those liberal, activist judges.

Phillip Allen
12-13-2009, 07:02 PM
agreed, Bruce

(politicians would lie on the credit when they could tell the truth for cash!)

perldog007
12-13-2009, 07:03 PM
agreed, Bruce

I think it's a pretty savvy take on things as well.

BrianW
12-13-2009, 08:39 PM
You know Brian, I am against my party on this one, in that I believe we need some serious investigations into ACORN. But lame as it sounds, I agree with Ian that the rule of law is more important than settling this score quickly.

Not sure which is your party. But yes, I agree with Ian too, in that the rule of law should be followed.

This is hardly the important ruling in the ACORN corruption case.

The political slant of the article was ridiculous.

johnw
12-14-2009, 12:20 AM
If every organization that violated the law were completely defunded, we'd have no defense contractors left. If Congress wants to defund Acorn, they can do it, but doing it based on the videos might be a little premature. Acorn's response to the videos was to fire some people and hire the former Massachusetts Attorney General to investigate the case. Here's part of what he said:



The videos that have been released appear to have been edited, in some cases substantially, including the insertion of a substitute voiceover for significant portions of Mr. O'Keefe's and Ms. Giles's comments, which makes it difficult to determine the questions to which ACORN employees are responding. A comparison of the publicly available transcripts to the released videos confirms that large portions of the original video have been omitted from the released versions.Now, that's Acorn's lawyer's version of events, so it's not gospel, but it might be a good idea to find out what questions the Acorn employees were responding to before finding the organization guilty of wrongdoing. That's why bills of attainer are illegal -- those in power can use them to shut down people or organizations that they have political disagreements with.

It seems to me that Acorn is a loosely run outfit, and may not deserve funding, but that's quite different from legislatively punishing them for supposed illegal conduct that has not been adjudicated in a court of law.

perldog007
12-14-2009, 07:30 AM
The only fair course at this junction would be a full investigation and a special prosecutor appointed, IMO. I know what I think based on media coverage, but the media's job is to sell advertising time. A fact that's hard to keep in mind sometimes.

At first I thought it was strange that the videos prompted action, then I thought the action was hasty and ill reasoned, many pundits cried window dressing and now that's a hard charge to refute.

I still have to agree that the rule of law has to prevail. If ACORN needs to be defunded let's hash that out properly instead of running to a vote on what might be tabloid journalism.

Brian Palmer
12-14-2009, 08:03 AM
I rather suspect another explanation...they knew quite well that it was very likely to be overturned by the courts but if they voted for the bill they could tell the voters in their district that they voted to de-fund ACORN (or their opponents could not make an issue of them not voting to de-fund ACORN). It has been shown over and over again that defenses like "I voted against that popular bill because I believed it was unconstitutional" does not get very far against "my opponent voted to continue to spend money on x."

The truly cynical view would add that if the bill was overturned by the courts, those who supported it could get more mileage by claiming that the bill was overturned by those liberal, activist judges.

Or they could have just not voted, if they knew it was an unconstitutional action.

Brian

Cuyahoga Chuck
12-14-2009, 10:00 AM
I've never been straight on this. A private lobby was using public funds? How does that happen?

You have been living in the woods too long. It's common for individuals and organizations who have drag in congress to benefit from legislation that is passed solely for their benefit. It can be a tax break, an exemption from some legal constraint, a contract to do work for the government, a bridge that goes from nowhere to nowhere.
If the above weren't possible all the lobbyists on K Street would be off running ponzi schemes or other dubious activities. In comparison to those K street people ACORN is penny-ante.
I'm certain you are old enough to be familiar with all this. I suspect your comment was just the result of your inability to refrain from doing the "Right Wing Boogie" whenever political discussions pop up.

Phillip Allen
12-14-2009, 10:24 AM
Chuck, are you saying that ACORN is a bridge to nowhere?

John Smith
12-14-2009, 10:58 AM
You know Brian, I am against my party on this one, in that I believe we need some serious investigations into ACORN. But lame as it sounds, I agree with Ian that the rule of law is more important than settling this score quickly.

Aside from the Glen Beck's of the world, who's had much to say about ACORN in a negative way.

Maddow ran a series for a week or two covering the lies ABOUT Acorn.

Any idea as to how many ACORN offices that pretent prostitute and pimp visited before they one to bite?

As to cutting funding, how about cutting funding for important stuff, like companies that allow rape?

Phillip Allen
12-14-2009, 11:28 AM
Hold on. Didn't Obama sign this thing? Why yes! He certainly did.

Oh deer (in the headlights)

perldog007
12-14-2009, 11:46 AM
Donn, I don't think our President could have absorbed the political cost of a veto on that one. Excellent point none the less.

Ian McColgin
12-14-2009, 11:53 AM
Some on this Forum understand the legislative process. Some misstate or misrepresent, depending on how much they understand versus how much they may pretend to understand, the meaning of a vote or a presidential signature.

Just to clarify for those who do not attend to the complexities of the federal legislative process, the defunding of ACORN was an amendment to the “Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009”.

Congress had the opportunity to vote the isolated amendment up or down and thus individual members are on record regarding funding or defunding ACORN, on record in a way they have never had the gusto to be on record regarding such serial lawbreakers as nearly all defense contractors, FEMA contractors, and on and on.

Whether or not Obama objected to the amendment defunding ACORN, that issue alone would not constitute a reason for vetoing the whole bill that had so much (albeit compromised) the administration wanted and needed. Of course he signed the bill as passed by Congress.

It is seriously disingenuous for anyone familiar with Congress to infer from Obama’s signature any stance, hypocritical or honest, pro- or anti-ACORN.

perldog007
12-14-2009, 11:54 AM
Aside from the Glen Beck's of the world, who's had much to say about ACORN in a negative way.

Maddow ran a series for a week or two covering the lies ABOUT Acorn.

Any idea as to how many ACORN offices that pretent prostitute and pimp visited before they one to bite?

As to cutting funding, how about cutting funding for important stuff, like companies that allow rape?

Perhaps the many states where there have been felony convictions of ACORN employees? I understand having a point of view, but I don't understanding discounting information just because somebody you disagree with states it.

I have a lot of differences with Beck and Olberman, but I will listen to both. O'reilly is aggravating, but somewhat informative. Geraldo , Maddow, they all offer different perspective. I say the remedy for a perspective you don't like is more perspective. Some folks choose invective. Opinions vary.......

BrianW
12-14-2009, 12:53 PM
It is seriously disingenuous for anyone familiar with Congress to infer from [insert favorite Congressman here] signature any stance, hypocritical or honest, pro- or anti-ACORN.

See... now everyone is innocent.

Ian McColgin
12-14-2009, 01:24 PM
OK, I'll try to take BrianW seriously on the assumption that he's at least a bit more of a learner than his quitter erstwhile governess.

Senators and Representatives don't put a signature on legislation but they do vote and all roll call votes (not all important votes are before the whole chamber and not all committee votes have to be roll call, I think) are accounted - yea, nea, abstain, not present, or (a category they should add) not sentient.

Thing is, there are all sorts of parlimentary games that sometimes make the meaning of a vote - especially of proceedural votes, committee votes, ammendment votes, and even votes on the final legislation - other than obvious.

In the case of the ACORN defunding, those who voted to defund and those who voted against that amendment were all pretty clear. OBAMA is, in my opinion, well advised to keep his mouth shut and let the process play out for ACORN. He's not prepared (yet, I hope he will get there though hope dims) to take on the massive twin problems of getting government back into and private contractors out of the many things that private enterprise has so ably prooven it can do more corruptly and more inefficiently and at far greater cost than even a tin-pot dictatorship.

John Smith
12-14-2009, 01:43 PM
Perhaps the many states where there have been felony convictions of ACORN employees? I understand having a point of view, but I don't understanding discounting information just because somebody you disagree with states it.

I have a lot of differences with Beck and Olberman, but I will listen to both. O'reilly is aggravating, but somewhat informative. Geraldo , Maddow, they all offer different perspective. I say the remedy for a perspective you don't like is more perspective. Some folks choose invective. Opinions vary.......

Different perspectives are fine. Made up facts are not. Beck makes up a lot of facts, and has been caught lying frequently about facts.

You'll be, I believe, hard pressed to find Olberman or Maddow mistating or making up facts.

That's the difference. Beck is an extremely unreliable source of information, as is Limbaugh, as neither holds much respect for facts, and both admit they are entertainers and have no need for accurate facts.

As to convicted employees of ANY organization, when does it become the organizations responsibility?

http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/acorn_accusations.html

perldog007
12-14-2009, 02:06 PM
Different perspectives are fine. Made up facts are not. Beck makes up a lot of facts, and has been caught lying frequently about facts.

You'll be, I believe, hard pressed to find Olberman or Maddow mistating or making up facts.

That's the difference. Beck is an extremely unreliable source of information, as is Limbaugh, as neither holds much respect for facts, and both admit they are entertainers and have no need for accurate facts.

As to convicted employees of ANY organization, when does it become the organizations responsibility?

http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/acorn_accusations.html

Accuracy in Media would disagree with your position while media matters may tend to agree.

When you have widespread illegal activity in the same organization across different states, it is fair to ask whether or not the organization is promoting illegal activity or functioning as a criminal enterprise.

It does not become the organizations responsibility unless and until the organization is found to be promoting the illegal activity in some way. That's why an investigation is needed.

I could throw up some right wing links to acorn "facts" but that's beside the point. There has been a call to investigate ACORN but it, like too many things falls on party lines.

Ian McColgin
12-14-2009, 02:21 PM
We already had a rather long bit of tail-chasing on ACORN. The Right was origionally hot on "vote fraud." Actually there was and could be no vote fraud since nothing ACORN did could produce false votes. There were obviously fictitious voter applications - Micky Mouse and Santa Claus are ever popular - that ACORN registration workers are required by federal law to turn in for rejection by the actual registrar. There were also some registration collectors who were improving their salaries by fabricating some forms. Mostly ACORN found and turned these over to law enforcement.

And there there were the wonderfully edited movies. The legal issues are still open so we'll see, but it is clear that whatever problem there was was not systemic. It needed addressing which it appears ACORN's new leadership is trying to do.

elf
12-14-2009, 03:40 PM
Still looking for evidence that any felony indictments against ACORN led to convictions. Been googling for about 45 minutes now. Would like to see that discussants here know the difference between Indictments and Convictions.

John Smith
12-14-2009, 03:49 PM
Accuracy in Media would disagree with your position while media matters may tend to agree.

When you have widespread illegal activity in the same organization across different states, it is fair to ask whether or not the organization is promoting illegal activity or functioning as a criminal enterprise.

It does not become the organizations responsibility unless and until the organization is found to be promoting the illegal activity in some way. That's why an investigation is needed.

I could throw up some right wing links to acorn "facts" but that's beside the point. There has been a call to investigate ACORN but it, like too many things falls on party lines.
ACORN is being investigated. That doesn't mean they're guilty, or that they'll be found guilty.

Remember how deeply Bill Clinton was investigated and how far short of expectations those investigations led.

I'm posting this, because I don't think you'll have any luck disputing her facts:

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/rachel-maddow-wont-toe-the-media-line-on-acorn/

BrianW
12-14-2009, 03:50 PM
Still looking for evidence that any felony indictments against ACORN led to convictions.

That's because Google can't predict the future. Yet. :)

Phillip Allen
12-14-2009, 05:03 PM
tick-tick-tick...and time oozes on