Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Court Rejects Free-Speech Challenge To Anti-Terror Law

Guess which recently appointed "moderate" was on of the dissenting justices in this case?
The Supreme Court on Monday upheld a law that makes it a crime to provide "material support" to designated foreign terrorist groups, even when the support involves training or advice on humanitarian activities.
The 6-3 decision marked the first time the high court had looked at restrictions on free speech in U.S. anti-terrorism policy since the 9/11 attacks. Monday's decision strengthens the hand of government to block any form of support, no matter how peaceful or seemingly benign, to foreign terrorist groups.
The majority emphasized that it was endorsing restrictions on coordinated work with foreign terrorist groups but not on any independent work a humanitarian organization might do on its own.
It is a federal crime to knowingly provide material support or resources to an entity designated by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization. Real-world question: What kind of rational, responsible group or individual would render "peaceful or seemingly benign" help to a terrorist group in the first place?

In Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, Chief Justice Roberts writing for the majority (which included retiring Justice Stevens) explained that...
Such support frees up other resources within the organization that may be put to violent ends. It also importantly helps lend legitimacy to foreign terrorist groups—legitimacy that makes it easier for those groups to persist, to recruit members, and to raise funds—all of which facilitate more terrorist attacks...Providing foreign terrorist groups with material support in any form also furthers terrorism by straining theUnited States’ relationships with its allies and undermining cooperative efforts between nations to prevent terrorist attacks...
The Preamble to the Constitution proclaims that the people of the United States ordained and established that charter of government in part to “provide for the common defence.” As Madison explained, “[s]ecurity against foreign danger is . . . an avowed and essential object of the American Union...” We hold that, in regulating the particular forms of support that plaintiffs seek to provide to foreign terrorist organizations, Congress has pursued that objective consistent with the limitations of the First and Fifth Amendments.

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