Federal Appeals Court Overturns Ruling Barring Congress From De-funding ACORN (now known as ACCE)
Published August 13, 2010
A federal appeals court on Friday threw
out a decision that had barred Congress from withholding funds from
ACORN, the activist group driven to ruin by scandal and financial woes.
The ruling by the 2nd Circuit Court of
Appeals in Manhattan reversed a decision by a district court judge in
Brooklyn that found Congress had violated the group's rights by
punishing it without a trial.
Congress cut off ACORN's federal funding
last year in response to allegations the group engaged in voter
registration fraud and embezzlement and violated the tax-exempt status
of some of its affiliates by engaging in partisan political activities.
Fueling the outrage was a video that caught
three employees allegedly advising a couple posing as a prostitute and
her boyfriend to lie about her profession and launder her earnings.
ACORN responded with a lawsuit accusing Congress of abusing its power with what amounted to a "corporate death sentence".
- The appeals court disagreed, citing a study finding that ACORN received only 10 percent of its funding from federal sources.
"We doubt that the direct consequences of
the appropriations laws temporarily precluding ACORN from federal funds
were so disproportionately severe or so inappropriate as to constitute
punishment," the three-judge panel wrote.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, which
argued on behalf of ACORN, said it was considering asking the appeals
court to rehear the case with more judges.
"We cannot let Congress be pushed around by
the right-wing media machine into becoming prosecutor, judge, jury and
executioner of politically unpopular people or organizations," said Bill
Quigley, legal director for CCR.
There was no immediate response to a phone message left for government lawyers.
ACORN, or the Association of Community
Organizations for Reform Now, had described itself as an advocate for
low-income and minority home buyers and residents. The national
organization announced earlier this year it was folding because of
Several of its largest affiliates, including
ACORN New York and ACORN California, broke away and changed their names
in a bid to ditch the tarnished image of their parent organization and
restore revenue that ran dry in the wake of the video scandal. They
continued to operate under their new names.
In written arguments submitted to the
appeals court, the government said ACORN had acknowledged embezzlement
and subsequent cover-up at the highest levels of the organization,
including nearly $1 million taken from the group by the brother of its
founder in 1999 and 2000.
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