For Immediate Release
Government Changes Attorney Licensing Regulations In Response To Lawsuit Filed By CCR And ACLU
Uncompensated Attorneys No Longer Need Government Permission To Represent Individuals Designated As Terrorists
WASHINGTON - Attorneys are no longer required to seek permission from the government
to provide uncompensated representation to individuals the government
has placed on a list of designated terrorists, following a lawsuit filed
by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional
Rights (CCR) in August. The groups filed the lawsuit against the
Treasury Department and the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) after
the government failed to grant them the license required by OFAC's
regulations in order to challenge the Obama administration's targeted
killing program. The lawsuit charged that the government could not
constitutionally require uncompensated attorneys to obtain a license in
order to challenge government conduct, or to represent a particular
client in court. OFAC granted the groups a license one day after they
filed the lawsuit.
Today, CCR and ACLU voluntarily dismissed the case after OFAC made
significant changes to the attorney licensing scheme. As of December 7,
uncompensated attorneys may represent designated individuals in any U.S
court or agency without first seeking a license from the government.
"We're pleased that the Office of Foreign Asset Control will no longer
require that lawyers seek the government's permission before filing
lawsuits that challenge the lawfulness of government conduct," said
Jonathan Manes, Legal Fellow at the ACLU's National Security Project.
"OFAC's regulations infringed both the free speech rights of attorneys
and the due process rights of Americans, but the changes that OFAC has
made in response to our lawsuit bring the regulations in line with the
In July, ACLU and CCR were retained by Nasser Al-Aulaqi to bring a
lawsuit in connection with the government's decision to authorize the
targeted killing of his son, U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Aulaqi. Later that
month, however, the Secretary of the Treasury labeled Anwar Al-Aulaqi a
"specially designated global terrorist," freezing his assets and making
it a crime for lawyers to provide representation for his benefit without
first obtaining a license from OFAC.
"The effect of the OFAC regulations we challenged would have been to
deny legal representation to a U.S. citizen the government is targeting
for death," said CCR Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei. "While revising the
regulations was an important change, the government's disturbing claim
of authority to carry out the targeted killing of American citizens
outside of armed conflict whom the executive branch has unilaterally
labeled enemies of the state remains."