A federal judge retained her position that it is unconstitutional for Congress to prevent funding for the activist group ACORN after a government request that she reconsider.


U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon cemented her earlier decision in December and made the injunction against government intervention permanent, asking all federal agencies to spread the word that money to ACORN be allowed without delay.

The judge wrote that it was "unmistakable that Congress determined ACORN's guilt before defunding it." Congress may investigate ACORN but cannot "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."

The Center for Constitutional Rights had charged Congress in last year's case of violating the group's constitutional protections.

"This is why the Constitution contains a prohibition against Congress enacting a bill of attainder – to prevent Congress from acting as judge jury and executioner," said Jules Lobel, a cooperating attorney with the center.

Bill Quigley, legal director for the center, was equally pleased by the outcome.

"We are pleased with the ruling made by Judge Nina Gershon today," Quigley said . "That Congress passed a budget, signed by President Obama, days after federal judge ruled bills of attainder unconstitutional shows just how intent these lawmakers are to target this one organization while violating their right to due process and freedom of association by targeting affiliated and allied organizations, as well. This is a rebuke of the smear tactics of the far right."

ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, describes itself as an advocate for low-income and minority home buyers and residents.

Critics of the group say it has engaged in voter registration fraud and embezzlement and has violated the tax-exempt status of some of its affiliates by engaging in partisan political activities.

The criticism turned to public outrage after reports seemed to suggest a young conservative operative named James O'Keefe filmed himself dressed as a pimp while accompanying a woman posing as a prostitute and visited a number of ACORN offices asking for advice on how to hide his "business" in prostitution.

Of course, it turns out the tape was edited to produce the intended outcry: a Brooklyn District Attorney's Office found no criminal acts were committed by the ACORN employees.

At his blog, Brad Friedman has lambasted the media for not noting that "O'Keefe never dressed as a pimp in the offices of ACORN."

Although accused of poor leadership, ACORN never merited what The Nation called "a rightwing witch hunt" reminiscent of a New McCarthyism.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.