Atlantic correspondent Wendy Kaminer has a fairly scathing piece noting that ACORN has had problems for a long time--and that its defenders have always responded by dismissing any problems as "minor" and complaining that partisan interests are harming all the fine work it does. Are the people who go after it partisan? Undoubtedly, as were the people who exposed problems at Halliburton, etc. But when your workers are caught on tape offering to help you smuggle your illegal underage prostitutes across the border, impugning the motives of the tapers hardly suffices.
I don't see how ACORN survives at this point; the IRS is the latest to pile on, severing ties with ACORN, and slapping a tax lien for unpaid payroll taxes on top of that blow. The lawsuit seems like an even worse attempt--less of a Hail-Mary Pass than an own-goal. At best, it keeps this distressing story in the news, more firmly impressing it into peoples' consciousnesses and making it therefore more difficult for Democrats to quietly let the organization back on the government gravy train at some future date. At worst, the lawsuit opens up ACORN to discovery, during which the defense can plunder their records. ACORN appears to be trying to avoid this fate by suing for intentional infliction of emotional distress rather than defamation (for which truth is an absolute defense). But that just makes it more likely that the case will be removed to federal court and dismissed. When that happens, the public mind will not make fine distinctions about legal doctrine. They'll just remember that a judge thought ACORN was in the wrong.
Liberals have legitimate reason to be mournful--they think ACORN does good work. But no organization is irreplaceable. Voters can be registered, tax advice proffered, and federal monies disbursed without ACORN's dubious help.