Constitutional Challenge to Terrorist Support Law Rejected - Civil Rights Law - U.S. Supreme Court
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Constitutional Challenge to Terrorist Support Law Rejected

Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, No. 08-1498, concerned a constitutional challenge to 18 U.S.C. section 2339B(a)(1), which prohibits knowingly providing material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.  The Court reversed the Ninth Circuit's affirmance of partial judgment for plaintiffs, holding that the material support statute was constitutional as applied to the particular forms of support that plaintiffs sought to provide to foreign terrorist organizations.

As the Court wrote:  "Congress has prohibited the provision of "material support or resources" to certain foreign organizations that engage in terrorist activity. 18 U. S. C. §2339B(a)(1). That prohibition is based on a finding that the specified organizations "are so tainted by their criminal conduct that any contribution to such an organization facilitates that conduct." Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), §301(a)(7), 110 Stat. 1247, note following 18 U. S. C. §2339B (Findings and Purpose). The plaintiffs in this litigation seek to provide support to two such organizations. Plaintiffs claim that they seek to facilitate only the lawful, nonviolent purposes of those groups, and that applying the material-support law to prevent them from doing so violates the Constitution. In particular, they claim that the statute is too vague, in violation of the Fifth Amendment, and that it infringes their rights to freedom of speech and association, in violation of the First Amendment. We conclude that the material support statute is constitutional as applied to the particular activities plaintiffs have told us they wish to pursue. We do not, however, address the resolution of more difficult cases that may arise under the statute in the future."

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