24 February 2010

Supreme Court Examines Terrorism, Material Support, and the First Amendment

SCOTUS Blog: Analysis: Anti-terrorism case not an easy one. Humanitarian Law Project cases; Argument recap

With a federal government lawyer pushing for a sweeping interpretation of the government’s most-used anti-terrorism law, the Supreme Court on Tuesday at times seemed tempted to conclude that, perhaps, the law may go too far.

The Court was reviewing the cases of Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project (08-1498) and Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder (09-89) as tests of a law dating back to 1996 providing up to 15 years in prison if convicted of providing “material support” to any group designated by the U.S. government as terrorist.

Washington Post: Supreme Court weighs free speech against aid to terrorists

The Supreme Court on Tuesday explored the tension between Americans' right to free speech and a federal law that prohibits aid to terrorist groups, and hardly anyone seemed clear about the lines of demarcation.

"Hezbollah builds bombs. Hezbollah also builds homes," Kagan said. "What Congress decided was when you help Hezbollah build homes, you are also helping Hezbollah build bombs. That's the entire theory behind this statute, and it's a reasonable theory."

Kagan called the law "a vital weapon in this nation's continuing struggle against international terrorism." The government has brought about 150 prosecutions under the law -- half of them successfully.

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