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Clinton judicial appointee stymies congressional ACORN funding ban

By Michelle Malkin  •  December 11, 2009 07:10 PM

Oy. The Hill’s Eric Zimmerman reports that a Clinton-appointed judge has enjoined the congressional ACORN funding bans as illegal “bills of attainder:”

A federal judge today issued an injunction preventing the implementation of a congressional ban on funding for ACORN.

Judge Nina Gershon concluded that the ban amounted to a “bill of attainder” that unfairly singled out ACORN.

“[The plaintiffs] 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 even administrative, process of adjudicating guilt,” Gershon wrote in her decision.

Gershon said ACORN had demonstrated “irreperable harm” from the ban, while “the potential harm to the government, in granting the injunction, is less.” The decision noted that the ban had already prevented ACORN from receiving payment from contracts awarded before the ban took effect.

“The public will not suffer harm by allowing the plaintiffs to continue work on contracts duly awarded by federal agencies, which was stopped solely by reason of [the ban],” Gershon wrote.

In defending the ban, the Obama administration argued it interpreted the bill narrowly enough to allow payment of existing contracts. But Gershon found the legislation too broad.

Constitutional law professor Eugene Volokh mulled over the legal questions in September here. So did Hans von Spakovsky here. His conclusion:

In sum, the Defund ACORN Act does not meet the legal definition of a bill of attainder. There is no valid reason why the courts would not defer to the legislative judgment of Congress as to the regulatory purposes of this statute, particularly since its general provisions provide no proof of punitive intent and further the interests of not providing taxpayer funds to organizations that violate campaign finance and election laws — laws that implicate the very essence of our democratic form of government and our voting process.

The [Congressional Research Service report on the bill of attainder question] at one point concedes the tenuousness of such a claim, as it should, when it admits that a “court would most likely be able to discern a rational, non-punitive purpose for [the Act]: a desire to prevent federal funds being used for activities that violate federal or state law.”[30] There is no basis for a court to overcome the presumption of constitutionality of the Act and rule otherwise

ACORN critic Mike Gaynor can say “I told you so.”

Gershon’s Judgepedia profile is here.

Posted in: ACORN Watch

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