For Immediate Release
Constitution Project Dismayed by Supreme Court's Rejection of Constitutional Challenge to Provisions of Material Support Laws
Ruling in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project Upholds Broad Application of Material Support Laws to Prohibit Even Pure Speech That Furthers Lawful Ends
WASHINGTON - Today, the Supreme Court, in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project,
upheld the extremely broad application of federal laws that prohibit
material support for designated terrorist groups. The lawsuit
challenged the application of the "material support" laws to
organizations and individuals who seek to provide peacebuilding and
human rights training to groups designated as terrorist organizations.
Writing for a total of six justices, Chief Justice Roberts today
rejected this challenge, finding that the application of the material
support statutes to punish these groups' pure speech that seeks to
further lawful, non-violent ends does not run afoul of the
Constitution. Although the Court agreed that the statute's regulation
of speech must be subject to a demanding level of scrutiny, the Court
found that these sweeping restrictions were justified by the
Government's interests in combating terrorism.
Project is thoroughly dismayed by today's Supreme Court's decision,
which will allow for the prosecution of individuals for
constitutionally protected, peaceful, speech and association
activities," said Sharon Bradford Franklin, Constitution Project Senior
Counsel. "As much as our government must have the tools needed to
punish those who work to enable acts of terrorism, it is essential that
these laws respect constitutional freedoms. We regret that the Court
refused to rein in the overbroad sweep of the material support statutes
to ensure that terrorist activities are prohibited but that free speech
and association are still safeguarded by the First Amendment. Training
groups to pursue peaceful resolution of their disputes should be
encouraged, not made criminal."
Last November, the Constitution Project, together with The Rutherford Institute, filed an amicus
brief in the case, urging the Supreme Court to strike down the
provisions of the material support laws that conflict with First
Amendment protections for free speech and freedom of association. Also
in November, the Constitution Project's Liberty and Security Committee
released Reforming the Material Support Laws: Constitutional Concerns Presented by Prohibitions on Material Support to "Terrorist Organizations,"
which proposed eight reforms to remedy serious First, Fourth and Fifth
Amendment concerns created by existing material support laws.
To view the Constitution Project's amicus brief in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, go to: http://www.
To view Reforming
the Material Support Laws: Constitutional Concerns Presented by
Prohibitions on Material Support to "Terrorist Organizations," go to: http://www.
The Constitution Project is a politically independent think tank established in 1997 to promote and defend constitutional safeguards. More information about the Constitution Project is available at http://constitutionproject.org/.