Baltimore You can’t find this piece in the Journal, Times, or Post. Soon it will show up in more conservative blogs with appropriate conspiratorial references and asides. Count on the misquotes and false attributions being numerous, but reading the decision by U.S. Federal Judge Nina Gershon, one cannot miss the decision’s clarity or thinly veiled anger. Gershon permanently enjoined the federal government from banning ACORN from funding and expressly directed a list of officials from Secretary of HUD Donovan to Secretary of the Treasury Geithner to OMB head Orzag to stop blocking the path and in Orzag’s case to step up and make this injustice right. Well, I guess “righter” since this is a textbook case of the damage to ACORN being irreparable as the organization seems on its last legs and fighting to survive in any form or fashion.
I would think our conservative friends who often try to claim they are big defenders of the U.S. Constitution, would be twisting in front of their computer screens a bit on this situation. The bar on “bills of attainder” in the Constitution is clear that any single entity or organization could not be politically singled out and punished without rhyme or reason without investigation or trial or particulars, but just in the herd reaction of a crowd in a theater hearing the shout, “fire!” This is an obvious and critical protection of the rights of speech and association in the Constitution where the bright line tests and protections against political whim and vengeance are as fundamental as one can imagine. Yet, to their shame we saw scores of Democrats and Republicans lined up to tar and feather ACORN without trial or charge or usually a clue. It is hard to forget that in pure political expediency the President, a former constitutional law teacher for crying out loud, joined the lynching mob in giving cover to these scurrilous attacks, which continue even as the Justice Department tries – unsuccessfully – to overturn Judge Gerson’s ruling.
The AP summary might be easier to handle than the actual decision:
The judge…wrote that it was “unmistakable that Congress determined ACORN’s guilt before defunding it.” She said Congress is entitled to investigate ACORN but cannot “rely on the negative results of a congressional or executive report as a rationale to impose a broad, punitive funding ban on a specific, named organization.”
She said the Code of Federal Regulations establishes a formal process for deciding when federal contractors can be suspended or debarred. She added that “the existence of these regulations militates against the need for draconian, emergency action by Congress.”
What a tragedy! But I doubt that members of Congress or the Administration will lose too much sleep over any of this. They need to worry about saving earmarks and a couple of perks for businesses in their district, right? Who really cares about the fate of an organization of lower income people and the impact of its eradication on the ongoing struggle for equity and justice?
The poor will always be with us right? And, we will always have people in power who will guarantee just that Biblical promise and do so, as it turns out, without a second thought.