ACORN Turns Up The Volume

In September, when Congress voted to ban federal funds for ACORN, it was clear, if it hadn’t been already, that the organization had emerged as a political liability. ACORN had sustained right-wing attacks for years, but at this point, even its more progressive allies wouldn’t give the organization the time of day.

But now, ACORN is challenging that Congressional ban in federal aid in the courts, saying it was unfairly targeted — singled out — by the resolution, with Congress taking punitive action “without an investigation.” The cut in federal aid, while originally portrayed by ACORN as a minor hit to the organization, has reportedly resulted in layoffs within the organization, and cuts in programming, including counseling for homeowners facing foreclosure or struggling to pay bills.

Exacerbating the loss of federal funding is the increasing number of long-time supporters distancing themselves from the organization.

At the time of ACORN’s loss of federal funds, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said in a statement that the move to cut ACORN funding, in the form of an amendment to a bill on college lending, was a “blatant violation of the Constitution’s prohibition against Bills of Attainder — referring to legislation crafted for punitive purposes:

“Congress must not be in the business of punishing individual organizations or people without trial, and that’s what this Amendment does. Whatever one may think of an organization, the Constitution’s clear ban on Bills of Attainder is there for the protection of all of our liberties.”

The lawsuit names as defendants Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, and Peter Orszag, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, according to The New York Times.

Matthew Brian Hersh served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics.


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