(CN) – The 2nd Circuit on Wednesday temporarily blocked a Brooklyn judge’s ruling that it was unconstitutional for Congress to halt federal funding to the activist group ACORN.
The three-judge panel in Manhattan stayed U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon’s order barring enforcement of Congress’ action until full arguments can be heard this summer.
ACORN, or the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now, argued that it “has been penalized by Congress without an investigation.”
Gershon agreed and twice ruled that the funding cutoff was unconstitutional, saying Congress can’t halt federal funding without a trial.
Government attorney Mark Stern said Congress had simply responded to “widespread mismanagement” in the organization.
ACORN came under heavy public scrutiny over controversial videos purportedly showing ACORN employees giving advice to people posing as a prostitute and her boyfriend, who were looking to smuggle underage prostitutes into the United States from Tijuana. The group’s critics also accuse it of voter fraud, tax evasion and embezzlement.
Barbara Lewis, the CEO of ACORN, said the group is “on life support” without government funding. “We’re still alive,” she said. “We’re limping along.”
She said the controversies were “like a scarlet letter” that scared away donors and forced the group to defend itself against “one investigation after another.”
ACORN supporters say funding is needed to keep low-income people from losing their government-subsidized housing.