November 12, 2009, New York – 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 misconduct.”
For more information, go to our ACORN v. USA Case Overview Page.
Jules Lobel is lead counsel; CCR counsel are Bill Quigley and Darius Charney; CCR Cooperating Attorneys are Bill Goodman and Julie Hurwitz of Goodman & Hurwitz, Detroit, MI; and, Arthur Schwartz of NY is counsel on the pleadings.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.