By Matthew Vadum
America’s long-suffering taxpayers scored a resounding victory as the Supreme Court told one of the nation’s foremost tax-eating groups to take a hike.
The high court denied an appeal last week by the radical left-wing gangster group ACORN, ruling in effect that Congress was entitled to cut off federal taxpayer funding for the group, which routinely perpetrates voter fraud and encourages welfare recipients to buy houses they have no hope of paying for.
ACORN still matters because reports of its demise have been exaggerated. Although the national ACORN organization filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy on election day last year, ACORN is restructuring itself in time to help re-elect its former employee, President Obama, next year. ACORN’s voter-mobilization arm, Project Vote, is conducting business as usual out of ACORN’s D.C. offices.
The ACORN network has taken in an astounding $79 million in federal funding, and those are only the grants I could find in the U.S. government’s antiquated databases. The $79 million figure is $26 million more than the $53 million figure previously taken as gospel.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now asked the Supreme Court to review a decision of a circuit court that had found that the funding cutoff enacted in 2009 was not a “bill of attainder” forbidden by the Constitution.
Legal scholar Hans A. von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation flatly rejected the argument, saying, “The bill of attainder clause has never been read to prevent Congress from defunding an organization or a corporation whose employees engage in criminal conduct, and it has rarely been invoked by the modern Supreme Court.”
Of course, liberals are often impervious to reason, preferring to see the Constitution as authorizing everything they see as good and prohibiting everything they see as bad.
In a breathtaking conflict of interest, the novel, nonsensical bill-of-attainder argument was suggested to the group by just such a liberal, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, who at the time chaired an oversight panel with jurisdiction over ACORN. Mr. Nadler, who has never been accused of lacking chutzpah, has given the ACORN-affiliated Working Families Party of New York at least $66,600 since 2002. Not surprisingly, the far-left pro-labor party routinely endorses Mr. Nadler.
Even after then-House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Michigan Democrat, publicly pleaded with Mr. Nadler to investigate ACORN over election irregularities, he steadfastly refused, claiming he would act only if hard evidence emerged of ACORN’s wrongdoings. In reality, no proof, however convincing, could ever satisfy the Manhattan congressman.
Mr. Nadler no doubt is blissfully unaware that in my book “Subversion Inc.,” I report that at least 54 people associated with ACORN have been convicted of voter fraud. Oops – scratch that – the real total is 55. Another ACORN voter-registration canvasser was convicted of election fraud in Pittsburgh after I filed my manuscript with the publisher. The total number is bound to go even higher because many of the accused ACORN workers have become fugitives from the law.
And ACORN itself was convicted of felony voter-registration fraud in Nevada in April. Sentencing in the massive conspiracy approved at the highest levels of the group is scheduled for Aug. 10 in Las Vegas.
Despite the mountains of evidence against ACORN, the group argued in court that a vast right-wing conspiracy had hoodwinked lawmakers. The legislation “was passed in large part due to a public relations campaign orchestrated by political forces that have persistently attacked and defamed the Plaintiff ACORN, its members, affiliates and allies,” according to the legal complaint.
ACORN’s tormentors, it continued, are “motivated by their hostility toward the Plaintiffs’ tireless commitment to registering voters, particularly those poor and working Americans who have been consistently disenfranchised and excluded from the American political system.”
ACORN’s attorneys at the ultraleftist Greenwich Village-based Center for Constitutional Rights argued without giggling that cutting off taxpayer funding somehow amounted to punishment. In other words, they said Congress had no power to stop funding the group unless lawmakers could prove it had done something wrong.
The argument was good enough at the trial level for federal Judge Nina Gershon, who ruled that the funding ban unconstitutionally singled out ACORN for punishment without trial. Judge Gershon previously showed a similar contempt for common sense. In 1999, the Clinton appointee ruled then-New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani had no right to end city funding of the Brooklyn Museum of Art when it displayed dead animals and a painting of the Virgin Mary decorated with elephant dung.
But what might have happened had the Supreme Court ruled the other way?
Meetings of the House and Senate spending committees would have turned into a new reality-TV show on C-SPAN that could have been called “ACLU Lawyers Gone Wild.”
Every tax-dollar-devouring pro-big-government group from Planned Parenthood to the National Council of La Raza to National Public Radio would have received a green light to bring so-called civil rights attorneys into congressional appropriations hearings to assist their special-interest clients in feeding at the public trough.
Fortunately, the Supreme Court saved America from this ACORN-inspired nuttiness.
Matthew Vadum is a senior editor at Capital Research Center (CRC),a think tank that studies left-wing advocacy groups and their funders. “Subversion Inc.” is his first book and the culmination of nearly three years of research and hundreds of interviews. Since joining CRC in 2006, his work has been cited in more than two dozen books and by multiple media outlets, including Fox News, Weekly Standard, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Christian Science Monitor.