Saturday, December 12, 2009

Federal Judge throws out "Defund ACORN" bill

Those hoping the "de-fund ACORN" bill would bring down the entire military-industrial complex are out of luck; a federal judge has ruled that it's a bill of attainder, which is unconstitutional.

Legal junkies can study Article I Clause 3 to their hearts' content at FindLaw; for everybody else, here's a brief explanation. A bill of attainder is a writ singling out a person or a group of persons for punishment, essentially declaring them guilty without giving them a trial.

In the old days, kings used bills of attainder to execute people they didn't like, which is why our founding fathers put trial by jury and a clause about bills of attainder into the Constitution.

You'd think members of Congress would know better than to write a bill singling out one organization so blatantly.

But Pete Sessions was one of the first to co-sponsor John Boehner's bill and used the vote to score political points in his weekly newsletter of Sept. 19, 2009.

All the Republicans voted for it, as well as most of the Democrats--egged on by Alan Grayson, who pointed out that the wording of the bill ("To prohibit the Federal Government from awarding contracts, grants, or other agreements to, providing any other Federal funds to, or engaging in activities that promote certain indicted organizations") could be used to bring down the entire military-industrial complex. He and all but 75 Democrats voted for it, and Alan Grayson went to work compiling a list of organizations that have committed fraud against the government--including such military contractors as Halliburton, Lockheed-Martin and Blackwater.

But those of us waiting for this bill to go all the way to the President's desk are out of luck; as the 75 nay-voting Democrats tried to tell us, it's a bill of attainder after all. The subtitle of the bill, "Defund ACORN Act," is a dead giveaway, as well as Section 2 Part C that singles out ACORN specifically.

If Pete Sessions and the U.S. Congress are serious about fighting fraud, they'll re-write this bill, omitting the section about ACORN, and send it back through for a vote. The Sessions Watch team is very interested to know if Pete Sessions would support such a revised bill.