The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jen Nessel, 212.614.6449,
David Lerner, Riptide Communications, 212.260.5000

CCR Charges Congress Violated Constitution in Vote to De-Fund ACORN, Affiliates, Allies

Lawsuit Seeks Temporary Restraining Order in Bill of Attainder Case


Today, the Center
for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed 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.

Said CCR Cooperating Attorney Jules Lobel,
"It's not the job of Congress to be the 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 a temporary restraining order to prevent the
government from reallocating funds designated for the organization and its
affiliates and a preliminary injunction to stop Congress from singling out a
single 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 Legal Director Bill Quigley said, "It is outrageous to see
Congress violating the Constitution for purposes of political grandstanding.
With all the crimes and infractions committed by banks, pharmaceutical
companies, and private government contractors, they have been rewarded with
bailouts, tax credits, and billions of dollars in new contracts. Congress bowed
to FOX News and joined in the scapegoating of an organization that helps
average Americans going through hard times to get homes, pay their taxes, and
vote. Shame on them."

Since the vote to temporarily ban all federal funds from ACORN and its
affiliates, related organizations have suffered. For example, in an affidavit
filed in today's lawsuit, an ACORN affiliate wholly separate from the
national organization charges it has been unfairly affected. The organization,
ACORN Institute (AI), had grants pending to provide computer training, asthma
education, tax preparation, and GED classes, among other programs. The
affidavit avers that no grant the organization has received and administrated
"has ever even allegedly involved any misconduct, misappropriation, fraud
or other illegal conduct. AI has never been indicted nor convicted of any
crime, nor ... has any AI employee ever been indicted or convicted of a
crime in conjunction with any work they have done for AI. AI has never been
denied any grant from any federal agency due to fraud or other alleged

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. CCR is committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

(212) 614-6464