The Department of Justice waded into the ACORN legal battle on Thursday, urging a federal court to re-evaluate the constitutionality of lawmakers' move to cut off the organization's funding earlier this year.
While a federal judge previously ordered a preliminary injunction on that ban, the Justice Department this afternoon asked a New York District Court to revisit that ruling in light of new facts unearthed from ACORN's own internal review.
Those details, wrote the department, "might reasonably be expected to alter the Court's previous conclusions, and the Court should reconsider its injunction as a result."
The latest chapter in the ACORN saga began earlier this month, after Judge Nina Gershon declared unconstitutional a bill that in part stripped the community organization of some of its funding.
ACORN's foes, however, quickly lambasted Gershon's decision, charging she was a liberal, activist judge. Some, including Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), even encouraged ACORN opponents to take the fight "all the way to the Supreme Court."
The Justice Department's filing on Thursday is a far cry from a petition to take the ACORN case to the high bench. Under any administration, the DOJ typically sides with the federal government against judges that overturn their laws -- a historical precedent that often puts Justice officials at odds with the White House.
In this particular instance, DOJ posits that ACORN's own investigation warrants another look at the case.
The community group commissioned former Massachusetts Attorney General
Scott Harshbarger this month to examine its business practices, after a series of videos depicting its employees engaging with a disguised pimp and prostitute went viral on the Web.
Harshbarger offered stern words for ACORN, citing its employees for poor judgment. But he ultimately found the group did not violate any federal laws.
Still, the DOJ filing on Thursday said the facts in Harshbarger's independent review, combined with ACORN's "uncontroverted, longstanding management problems," is reason enough to consider for a second time whether it should receive any tax dollars.
After the motion was filed, Issa -- one of ACORN's most strident opponents -- applauded the DOJ's decision.
"Given the numerous ongoing investigations being conducted surrounding ACORN’s criminal activities, the federal government will and should vigorously defend what the President signed and Congress overwhelmingly passed -- a bipartisan recognition that ACORN is not fit to receive federal funds to perform duties on behalf of the American people,” the congressman said.