Congress Declares Truce with ACORN – Finally We Hope!

300-congressMissoula    There may be signs of a thaw in the blood war that Republicans in Congress have been waging against ACORN’s corpse in the United States. According to the best count by the Huffington Post there were thirteen times that ACORN was banned from receiving any support from the government after leadership and management threw in the towel and formally declared bankruptcy for the US organization in November 2010. Given the attention that has been paid to this weird necrophilia by the House Appropriations Committee, it now appears that none of the “banning” language has been included in any of the minor or major appropriations bills since mid-January of this year.

Spokespeople for the Committee have refused reporters’ requests for comment on whether or not they have finally stopped this silliness, but earlier they had referred to such bans as boilerplate language inserted in all appropriations. All of which was bizarre to read in things like the Defense budget and many others that had never funded any of the ACORN family of organizations. My old Latin teacher from high school, Dr. Romeo, himself a polio victim, used to call this a coup de grace and then ask the class what that phrase meant in English, and demand that the answer had to be “kicking a cripple.”

All of this was kind of ticking me off to tell the truth. This year I spent no small amount of time with several lawyers looking at the legal avenues to sue to stop this foolishness which was chilling and intimidating to organizations doing the work. Some of the bans were ridiculously broad and named ACORN, “its subsidiaries,” and “its successors” all of which in my view, and I would believe anyone else’s with sound mind and judgment, was way, way past the original language of the Congressional resolution in 2009 and essentially nothing more than a pile-on. This year, I finally read the court’s decision claiming this was not a “bill of attainder” barred specifically in the Constitution, but a huge part of that decision was based on the premise that this ban was temporary and limited. Continuing to embellish and expand the ban to other organizations, including many unions and other nonprofits who never could have been classified as even remotely part of the ACORN “family” undermined the decision, and of course keeping it evergreen for years after the original ban, made it permanent, not temporary.

My good legal friends and scholars kept dissuading me because in their view for a plaintiff to prevail there had to be an immediate injury. An organization named, and there were hundreds, and willing to be a plaintiff would need to establish that they had applied for such funding and been denied because of this ban. The fact that it was chilling to many organizations activities and work because the ban even existed and named them was a grievous injustice, they had no doubt, but in the American legal system, justice and the courts have been delinked. Essentially my legal brothers and sisters were patient and sympathetic, but I could tell that they were really telling me, “hey, Wade, we love you buddy, but call us when you’re not tilting at windmills.”

So I want to believe this ban is now finally moot. I would like to believe there is finally a truce of sorts. The Huffington Post headline had blared, “House Republicans Finally Surrender to ACORN,” but I know that’s not true, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed and my eyes peeled on those bad boys, because they’re up to no good and not to be trusted. I’ll let you know when I think differently, but for now it seems it’s safe to allow small children out in the yard to play and organizers to do their work in the USA again.

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