A federal judge retained her position that it is unconstitutional
for Congress to prevent funding for the activist group ACORN after a
government request that she reconsider.
U.S. District Judge Nina
Gershon cemented her earlier decision in December and made the
injunction against government intervention permanent, asking all federal
agencies to spread the word that money to ACORN be allowed without
The judge wrote that it was "unmistakable that Congress
determined ACORN's guilt before defunding it." Congress may investigate
ACORN but cannot "rely on the negative results of a congressional or
executive report as a rationale to impose a broad, punitive funding ban
on a specific, named organization."
The Center for Constitutional
Rights had charged Congress in last year's case of violating the group's
"This is why the Constitution
contains a prohibition against Congress enacting a bill of attainder -
to prevent Congress from acting as judge jury and executioner," said
Jules Lobel, a cooperating attorney with the center.
Quigley, legal director for the center, was equally
pleased by the outcome.
are pleased with the ruling made by Judge Nina Gershon today," Quigley
said . "That Congress passed a budget, signed by President Obama, days
after federal judge ruled bills of attainder unconstitutional shows just
how intent these lawmakers are to target this one organization while
violating their right to due process and freedom of association by
targeting affiliated and allied organizations, as well. This is a rebuke
of the smear tactics of the far right."
ACORN, or the Association
of Community Organizations for Reform Now, describes itself as an
advocate for low-income and minority home buyers and residents.
of the group say it has engaged in voter registration fraud and
embezzlement and has violated the tax-exempt status of some of its
affiliates by engaging in partisan political activities.
criticism turned to public outrage after reports seemed to suggest a
young conservative operative named James O'Keefe filmed himself dressed
as a pimp while accompanying a woman posing as a prostitute and visited a
number of ACORN offices asking for advice on how to hide his "business"
Of course, it turns out the tape was edited to
produce the intended outcry: a Brooklyn District Attorney's Office found
no criminal acts were committed by the ACORN employees.
At his blog, Brad Friedman
has lambasted the media for not noting that "O'Keefe never dressed as a
pimp in the offices of ACORN."
Although accused of poor
leadership, ACORN never merited what The Nation called "a
rightwing witch hunt" reminiscent of a New McCarthyism.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.