Behind approval of the ACORN Contracts

As the nation digested Thanksgiving turkey, a Harvard-related functionary approved continuation of contracts with ACORN.  From Politico:

The Justice Department has ruled that the federal government can honor some existing contracts to fund ACORN, despite a law barring the flow of all federal money to the beleaguered community group.


David Barron, the acting assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, concluded in a five-page ruling that the funding ban signed by President Barack Obama in October as part of the legislative branch appropriations bill does not direct the Department of Housing and Urban Development to breach pre-existing contracts to pay ACORN. Much of ACORN’s federal funds come in the form of housing subsidies.


The ruling, issued Monday, was made public on Friday.


“We are pleased that commitments will be honored relative to ACORN’s important work to help working families protect their homes from foreclosure,” said Brian Kettenring, ACORN’s deputy director of national operations.

Link: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1109/29945.html

Had they been proud of the ruling, it would have come out after the holiday

David Barron has never practiced law, nor worked in the private sector.  Until recently a professor at Harvard Law School, a bio describes him as follows:

he was a law clerk to Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Justice John Paul Stevens of the Supreme Court of the United States. Prior to teaching, he served as an attorney-advisor in the Office of Legal Counsel in the United States Department of Justice. Professor Barron’s research and writing focuses on local government law, constitutional law, and the separation of powers.

Link http://www.tbf.org/tbfgen1.asp?id=3452

A law student describes him:

I love David Barron, he’s super awesome and nice and really wants to help students. That said he’s not the best at making property engaging for students who don’t already like it. In fact, I don’t think even those who had prior interest were that engaged. This could be property’s fault, though.

Link: http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=300625

He moved somewhat seamlessly from law school to clerkship to law school teaching to government work.

He is married to 1995 Harvard Law graduate Juliette Kayyem. 

A bio describes her:

Juliette N. Kayyem is on leave from her position as a lecturer in Public Policy and a member of the Belfer Center’s board of directors. She has been nominated to serve as Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Programs in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Prior to that, she has served as Massachusetts’ undersecretary for homeland security. She also served as co-faculty chair of the Dubai Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, a program with the Dubai School of Government. Ms. Kayyem has been a resident scholar at the Belfer Center, serving most recently as Executive Director for Research where she oversaw the Center’s substantive activities in international security, environment, and energy policy.  She is an expert in homeland security and terrorism, with a particular focus on the intersection of democracy and counter-terrorism policies.  She teaches courses on law, homeland security, and national security. 

Link: http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/experts/62/juliette_kayyem.html

A Harvard profile describes her as

This is not the first time Kayyem’s background has been relevant to her professional life, nor is it the first time she has worked for Patrick. She was a litigator at the U.S. Justice Department when he was assistant attorney general for civil rights during the Clinton administration. But what came to define her time there was her passionate fight against the use of secret evidence to detain about a dozen people—most of whom were Arab men. Kayyem came to believe that within the FBI and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, there was a bias against Arabs and Muslims which the Justice Department had a responsibility to address. She eventually became an adviser to Attorney General Janet Reno ’63, and in that role she pushed Reno to re-examine the detention policies. She was also the only Arab-American member of the National Commission on Terrorism, formed after the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania (her appointment caused some dismay among Muslim-American leaders, who pointed out that Kayyem is Christian, not Muslim).

Link http://www.law.harvard.edu/news/bulletin/2007/summer/cn_02.php

Once a columnist at the Harvard Crimson, she opposed the invitation of Barbara Bush to speak at Wellesley:

If Barbara Bush agrees with the administration and its anti-abortion philosophy, she has no right to speak to Wellesley women about the choices that they have living in the 1990’s. If Barbara Bush disagrees with the administration, if the rumors are true and she is keeping quiet, then she still has no place at Wellesley; independence of mind is not only the lesson of a women’s education, it is the lesson of a liberal arts education.

Link: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1990/5/11/where-wellesley-went-wrong-pbwbellesley-colleges/

My point in all of this?  That approval of the ACORN contracts was a foregone conclusion, because the David Barron family has so fully partaken of the secular, liberal, Democratic Party based Kool Aid that no other result would have been possible.

As Politico notes,

Republicans are already seizing on the DOJ judgment. Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, said the administration is circumventing the intent of Congress. He called the ruling “old-fashioned cronyism” intended to benefit an organization he said is allied with Obama.


Issa will hold a forum Tuesday on ACORN with Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), the top Republican on the House judiciary committee.

It will be interesting to see what comes of Tuesday’s hearing.