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Thread: ACORN Sues Over 'Unconstitutional' Funding Cuts By Congress

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    ACORN Sues Over 'Unconstitutional' Funding Cuts By Congress

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    Joseph Abrams - FOXNews.com - November 12, 2009

    In an attempt to regain the millions in funding it lost in the wake of a hidden-camera scandal, ACORN is suing the federal government over congressional legislation that cut off funding to the community organizing group.

    Representatives for ACORN sued the federal government Thursday morning in an attempt to regain the millions of dollars in funding the community organizing group lost after filmmakers videotaped its workers offering advice on how to commit tax fraud and various other felonies.
    The suit charges Congress with violating the Constitution when it passed legislation in September that specifically targeted ACORN to lose federal housing, education and transportation funds.
    That qualifies the legislation as bills of attainder, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, which filed the suit on behalf of ACORN. A bill of attainder punishes a person or group without the benefit of a trial, and is illegal under Article 1 of the Constitution.
    Does ACORN not understand that Congress can choose to do what they wish with tax dollars? I don't think they will win.
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    Re: ACORN Sues Over 'Unconstitutional' Funding Cuts By Congress

    No doubt! And what's this about the CA AG telling them 'psst....Don't worry, we are not coming after you, but rather the people that exposed you'....How corrupt does one have to be?


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    Re: ACORN Sues Over 'Unconstitutional' Funding Cuts By Congress

    Since when does anyone have a constitutional right to receive tax payer money?
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    Re: ACORN Sues Over 'Unconstitutional' Funding Cuts By Congress

    Wasn't it unconstitutional that they ever received funding in the first place? LOL

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    Re: ACORN Sues Over 'Unconstitutional' Funding Cuts By Congress

    Quote Originally Posted by American View Post
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    Does ACORN not understand that Congress can choose to do what they wish with tax dollars? I don't think they will win.
    Quote Originally Posted by jamesrage View Post
    Since when does anyone have a constitutional right to receive tax payer money?
    This is an oversimplification of a relatively complex legal question. The Constitution prohibits bills of attainder, which are bills specifically designed to have a punitive effect without trial. According to legal experts and the CRS, it's unclear whether this bill would qualify. Another example of a probable bill of attainder would have been the supertax on AIG bonuses.

    For your edification:

    The Volokh Conspiracy - -

    http://volokh.com/2009/09/24/congres...-of-attainder/
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    Re: ACORN Sues Over 'Unconstitutional' Funding Cuts By Congress

    Is ceasing voluntarily provided aid a punitive measure?

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    Re: ACORN Sues Over 'Unconstitutional' Funding Cuts By Congress

    Quote Originally Posted by American View Post
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    Does ACORN not understand that Congress can choose to do what they wish with tax dollars? I don't think they will win.
    Congress CAN'T do what it wishes with taxpayer dollars, if the Constitution is being obeyed.

    One of the things, from a list of many things they can't spend money on, is fund ACORN.

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    Re: ACORN Sues Over 'Unconstitutional' Funding Cuts By Congress

    Quote Originally Posted by Kernel Sanders View Post
    Is ceasing voluntarily provided aid a punitive measure?
    Ceasing unconstitutionally provided money can't be a violation of the Constitution, hence the bill of attainder restriction can't possibly apply.

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    Re: ACORN Sues Over 'Unconstitutional' Funding Cuts By Congress

    Quote Originally Posted by Kernel Sanders View Post
    Is ceasing voluntarily provided aid a punitive measure?
    It's unclear. According to the CRS:

    The two main criteria which the courts would likely look to in order to determine whether legislation is a bill of attainder are (1) whether “specific” individuals or entities are affected by the statute, and (2) whether the legislation inflicts a “punishment” on those individuals. Under the instant bills, the fact that ACORN and its affiliates are named in the legislation for differential treatment would appear to meet a per se criteria for specificity.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has also identified three types of legislation which would fulfill the “punishment” prong of the test: (1) where the burden is such as has “traditionally” been found to be punitive; (2) where the type and severity of burdens imposed are the “functional equivalent” of punishment because they cannot reasonably be said to further “non-punitive legislative purposes;” and (3) where the legislative record evinces a “congressional intent to punish.” The withholding of federal contracts or grants does not appear to be a “traditional” punishment, nor does the legislative record so far appear to clearly evince an intent to punish. The question of whether the instant legislation serves as the functional equivalent of a punishment, however, is more difficult to ascertain.

    While the regulatory purpose of ensuring that federal funds are properly spent is a legitimate one, it is not clear that imposing a permanent government-wide ban on contracting with or providing grants to ACORN fits that purpose, at least when the ban is applied to ACORN and its affiliates jointly and severally. In theory, under the House bill, the behavior of a single employee from a single affiliate could affect not only ACORN but all of its 361 affiliates. Thus, there may be issues raised by characterizing this legislation as purely regulatory in nature. While the Supreme Court has noted that the courts will generally defer to Congress as to the regulatory purpose of a statute absent clear proof of punitive intent, there appear to be potential issues raised with attempting to find a rational non-punitive regulatory purpose for this legislation. Thus, it appears that a court may have a sufficient basis to overcome the presumption of constitutionality, and find that it violates the prohibition against bills of attainder.
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    Re: ACORN Sues Over 'Unconstitutional' Funding Cuts By Congress

    I couldn't possibly buy that. Punitive damages are supposed to be where the party has to pay money. Receiving less money, I don't see what's wrong with that.

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