ACORN Suing U.S. Gov Over Defunding Law Pushed by GOP
Remember that whole 'separation of powers' dealio? Congress writes the laws, and the courts punish those who break 'em. Neat system; worked OK so far.
If Congress passes a law punishing someone for doing something it thinks wrong, it's usurping the role of the courts, and the Constitution frowns on it! Legislators aren't empowered to punish wrong-doers, both because the "Founders" appreciated the value of a good trial and because they understood that politicians are often motivated by considerations other than the rule of law (shocking, I know!).
So they prohibited the passage of "bills of attainder" -- laws singling out specific groups or individuals for retribution. Which is double-plus good today, when our Congress includes frothing-mad right-wingers shouldering massive grievances and not a few members who are dumb-as-the-proverbial-box-of-rocks.
Speaking of which, you'll recall that the GOP pushed hard back in September to pass a bill that prohibited any federal funding from going to ACORN, the right-wing bogeyman-of-the-day [correction: the bill passed in the House but is still in committee on the senate side). Perhaps sensitive to the Constitutional issue, they wrote the law so broadly that it could apply to just about any contractor, and some suggested at the time that in theory it could, if applied consistently, lead to the entire military-industrial-complex being "defunded." Proponents said it passed Constitutional muster because it applied to everyone.