The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

CCR Lawyers Ask Judge to Apply Ruling From Last Week to New ACORN De-Funding

President Signed New Budget Yesterday; Government Seeks Reconsideration of Injunction in Bill of Attainder Case


Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) asked a federal
judge to amend her decision granting an injunction against Congress'
unconstitutional de-funding of the Association of Community
Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) to apply it to the new federal
budget provisions signed into law by President Obama yesterday. Some
provisions of the new budget include prohibitions on ACORN receiving
federal funds, provisions CCR argues are unconstitutional. The United
States has also filed papers asking the judge to reconsider her
December 11 ruling and set it aside. There will be a hearing on these
motions Tuesday December 22. The time for the hearing has not yet been

Last Friday, CCR won an important preliminary injunction in its case
charging 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. The U.S.
Constitution forbids lawmakers from singling out a person or group for
punishment without a fair investigation and trial in order to protect
against political retribution without due process.

On Sunday, Congress passed a new budget that included three specific
references targeting ACORN for de-funding. President Obama signed the
budget into law yesterday.

Said CCR Legal Director Bill Quigley, " A federal
judge has already ruled that Congress cannot act unconstitutionally as
judge, jury, and executioner in the case of ACORN, yet they passed a
budget doing precisely that just days later, and President Obama signed
it. There should be no place for political retribution and
grandstanding in the law."


In its December 11 decision, the court found that there is a likelihood
the plaintiffs will be able to show that Congress' targeted defunding
of ACORN violates the Constitution's prohibition against Bills of
Attainder, legislative acts which single out a specific person or group
for punishment. The court's ruling stated, "The plaintiffs have raised
a fundamental issue of separation of powers. They have been singled
out by Congress for punishment that directly and immediately affects
their ability to continue to obtain federal funding, in the absence of
any judicial, or administrative, process adjudicating guilt... The
public will not suffer harm by allowing the plaintiffs to continue work
on contracts duly awarded by federal agencies..."

CCR attorneys said 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.

Last week, the former attorney general of Massachusetts released an
independent report on ACORN, and complete transcripts showed that the
infamous videotapes had been doctored and fully misrepresented the
actions of the workers shown.

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.

Jules Lobel is lead counsel in the case; other counsel include CCR
Legal Director Bill Quigley and CCR Staff Attorney Darius Charney; CCR
Cooperating Attorneys Bill Goodman and Julie Hurwitz of Goodman &
Hurwitz, Detroit, MI; and attorney Arthur Schwartz of New York.

For more information, go to our ACORN v. USA case overview page.

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