The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Will Matthews, ACLU, (212) 549-2582 or 2666;

Supreme Court Rules "Material Support" Law Can Stand

Court Upholds Broad Interpretation Of Anti-Terrorism Law That Inhibits Work Of Humanitarian Groups


United States Supreme Court today upheld the broad application of a
federal law that hinders the ability of human rights and humanitarian
aid organizations to do their work by making it a crime to provide
"material support" to designated "foreign terrorist organizations"
(FTOs). The ruling thwarts the efforts of human rights organizations to
persuade violent actors to renounce violence or cease their human
rights abuses and jeopardizes the provision of aid and disaster relief
in conflict zones controlled by designated groups, said the American
Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in
the case, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project,
on behalf of the Carter Center and several other organizations known
for their work to promote peace, further human rights and alleviate
human suffering around the world.

Under the law, individuals face up
to 15 years in prison for providing "material support" to FTOs, even if
their work is intended to promote peaceful, lawful objectives.
"Material support" is defined to include any "service," "training,"
"expert advice or assistance" or "personnel."

The following can be attributed to former President Jimmy Carter, founder of the Carter Center:

"We are disappointed that the
Supreme Court has upheld a law that inhibits the work of human rights
and conflict resolution groups. The 'material support law' - which is
aimed at putting an end to terrorism - actually threatens our work and
the work of many other peacemaking organizations that must interact
directly with groups that have engaged in violence. The vague language
of the law leaves us wondering if we will be prosecuted for our work to
promote peace and freedom."

The following can be attributed to Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project:

"Today's decision is disappointing
and inconsistent with our First Amendment position. The government
should not be in the business of criminalizing speech meant to promote
peace and human rights."

Organizations that signed onto the
ACLU's brief are the Carter Center, Christian Peacemaker Teams,
Grassroots International, Human Rights Watch, International Crisis
Group, the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George
Mason University, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at
Notre Dame University, Operation USA and the Peace Appeal Foundation.

The ACLU's brief is available online at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666