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Appeals Court Overturns Decision That Ordered Restoration Of ACORN Funds

John Atlas, author of "The True Inside Story of ACORN," dissects Friday's court ruling that has Rep. Darrell Issa in such a happy, giddy whirl: Des

John Atlas, author of "The True Inside Story of ACORN," dissects Friday's court ruling that has Rep. Darrell Issa in such a happy, giddy whirl:

Despite a slew of independent investigations exonerating ACORN of misdeeds, on Friday, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned federal court Judge Nina Gershon's decision that cutting off ACORN's funding punished ACORN without a trial. Gershon had ordered the United States government to restore ACORN's funds.

Congress canceled funding for the controversial group last year in the wake of highly edited, secret-video tapes, appearing to implicate the group in promoting prostitution.

[...] ACORN had sued the federal government in November 2009 arguing that the U.S. Congress violated the Constitution by illegally targeting the group. Gershon determined that Congress singled ACORN out for punishment in the absence of any judicial or administrative process adjudicating guilt.

In her opinion, District Court Judge Gershon wrote that Congress relied on unsubstantiated accusations to cut off ACORN's funds. Republican conservatives claimed Congress had to act to protect the taxpayer's money. Gershon countered saying, Congress can't "rely on the negative results of a congressional or executive report as a rationale to impose a broad, punitive funding ban on a specific, named organization."

Last Friday, the appeals court, made up of two Republicans and a conservative Democrat, reversed a key part of the lower court ruling.

George Bush Sr. considered appointing the lone Democrat, Jose Cabranes, to the Supreme Court. The court determined that Congress can punish a specific group, overruling what the district court judge had identified as an unconstitutional Bill of Attainder.

"Despite that evidence of punitive intent on the part of some members of Congress . . . there is no congressional finding of guilt in this case," the three-judge panel ruled. The appeals court also sent the case back to Brooklyn federal Judge Gershon to consider ACORN's claims that its free-speech and due-process rights were violated.

As Atlas points out, Congress frequently ignores significant transgressions by military contractors.

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