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Second Circuit Tries Hoisting ACORN on Its Own Petard

P1010005 Laramie I may be stuck in Laramie, but I adapt and make the best of it, which is what organizers do by nature and training.  I spent a couple of hours at Coal Creek Coffee downtown in no small part because generally coffee in Wyoming sucks, despite the greatness of the state, and because the stencil on the front door of the shop heartily welcomes “do gooders, malcontents, and revolutionaries” so at least some of the customers must be “my people.”  I tried on a pair of Merrill’s moccasins just to see how they felt.  I bought a couple of pair of Carthart jeans because I’ve always admired them.  You’re getting the picture.

Maryellen Hayden, a warrior who ran the Pittsburg office of ACORN for years, posted a couple of notes on my Facebook wall ranting about the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals overturn of ACORN’s successful injunction at the federal district court level of the Congressional crazy stampede that produced the ACORN Defunding Act in the wake of the pimp-prostitute mess last fall and the general partisan hating on ACORN that had been unremitting for a year.  I had posted a Times printing of an AP story.  Maryellen’s comments seemed to be saying that the appeals court had essentially decided to reject the lower court decision because the punishment of ACORN was de minimus – not significant – because only 10% of ACORN’s funding originated with the feds.  So, I thought, what the heck, I’m stranded in Wyoming chomping at the bit to drive home, I should be at the office early tomorrow, instead here I am, so the least I can do is buckle down and read the decision and see if I can throw some light out there against the dark forces.

So I read the decision this morning with a lot of head scratching.  Several observers have pointed out that the appeals decision was decided 2-1 on a Republican versus Democratic split, and there may be good reason to do so, because a lot of the decision seems more “political” than legal.  Inevitably this will arise when so much of the decision is based on the Appeals Court’s avowed intention in many parts of the writing to parse the degrees of punishment to determine whether or not they can be called “unconstitutionally punitive.”  In that sense Maryellen is right that they certainly cite that suspending 10% of ACORN’s funding should not have been a “death blow.”

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