Predictably enough, the news that ACORN filed a lawsuit challenging Congress' decision to bar ACORN and it's "affiliates, subsidiaries, or allied organizations" from receiving federal funds has attracted a bit of attention, both in the traditional media and on blogs. Predictably enough, there's a great deal that's being said about the suit that either distorts the facts or just plain gets things wrong. Predictably enough, I'm unable to sit idly by when someone is wrong on the internet, so I'm going to try to identify and correct some of the more egregious errors that have been popping up.
I'm going to start by looking at an assumption that seems to be at the root of many of the arguments in favor of Congress' decision to defund ACORN:
1: Congress decided to give ACORN the money, so Congress can take away the money anytime it wants to.
One of the more explicit examples of this argument comes from American Spectator's Doug Brandow:
The argument really is too silly to refute. Once it votes money, Congress isn't allowed to defund any organization in the future until, what, a full-scale trial? Or does that principle apply only if the organization has misused the cash? In contrast, the Red Cross could be defunded tomorrow because it hasn't gone around advising would-be pimps and prostitutes? Or does this rule apply only to left-wing groups whose misdeeds were caught on tape?
That argument leaves out one very important fact: although Congress explicitly voted to bar ACORN from receiving Federal money, Congress did not actually vote to give most (if not all) of the money in question to ACORN.