For Immediate Release
Supreme Court to Review Statute Criminalizing Humanitarian Aid
CCR Calls Provisions of Material Support Statute Unconstitutional
NEW YORK - Today, the
Supreme Court announced that it will hear an appeal from lower court rulings
stating that key provisions of the federal “material support”
statute are unconstitutional. The statute makes it a crime to provide money or
goods, “training,” “personnel,” “expert advice or
assistance” or “services” to any organization on the State
Department’s list of “foreign terrorist organizations,”
resulting in convictions carrying maximum sentences ranging from 15 years to
“The material support law resurrects guilt by
association and makes it a crime for a human rights group in the U.S. to
provide human rights training,” said lead counsel and CCR Board Member
David Cole. “We don’t make the country safer by criminalizing
those who advocate nonviolent means for resolving disputes. The Supreme Court
should make clear that only those who intend to further the illegal ends of an
organization can be punished.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) originally
filed the case, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, on behalf of
the Humanitarian Law Project, a human rights organization that seeks to provide
nonviolent dispute resolution and human rights advocacy training to the
Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the main Kurdish political party in
Turkey, and several groups of Tamil-American physicians and other professionals
who seek to provide humanitarian relief in war-torn areas of Sri Lanka
controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), especially areas
affected by the 2004 tsunami.
In its most recent ruling, the Court of Appeals for the
Ninth Circuit ruled that the provisions of the statute making it criminal to
provide “training,” “expert advice or assistance” in
the form of “specialized knowledge,” or “services” to
the PKK or LTTE were unconstitutionally vague. In six separate decisions, every
court that has considered this case over the last 11 years has found that
significant parts of the statute were unconstitutional.
The plaintiffs are represented by David Cole and Shayana
Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and by cooperating attorneys
Carol Sobel, Paul Hoffman, and Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran.
For more information on Holder v. Humanitarian Law
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