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ACORN Suing Federal Government Over Vote in House

November 12, 2009 - by Paul Blumenthal

In September, the House of Representatives voted to ban funding the community organization Acorn. At the time questions arose as to whether the language stripping Acorn of funds was unconstitutional. The Constitution forbids bills of attainder, legislation targeting one specific individual or organization. Now, Acorn is suing the federal government over the House vote that attached the language to a student loan bill stating that the language amounts to a bill of attainder:

The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court in Brooklyn, says that congressional resolution constitutes a “bill of attainder,” or a legislative determination of guilt without a trial. In the suit, Acorn, which came under fire especially from conservative critics after a series of embarrassing scandals, said it was penalized by Congress “without an investigation” and has been forced to slash programs that counsel struggling homeowners, and lay off workers.

“It’s a classic trial by the legislature,” said Jules Lobel, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which brought the suit. “They have essentially determined the guilt of the organization and any organization affiliated or allied with it.”

The language that is in question here can be found in this bill (H.R. 3571). This language was attached to H.R. 3221 in a motion to recommit vote.

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