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06/22/2010

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Elizabeth Sanders

This is indeed a terrible Supreme Court decision, one that criminalizes charity. As the Times June 21 blog summarizes,

"The case, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, was brought by an American organization that sought to teach members of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (known as the P.K.K.) how to resolve disputes under international law and engage in political advocacy on behalf of Kurds in Turkey. The P.K.K. has been designated a foreign terrorist group by the State Department.
In the 6-3 majority opinion, Chief Justice John Robers wrote that barring such “expert advice or assistance” and “service” did not violate the First Amendment, “even if the supporters meant to promote only the groups’ nonviolent ends.”

David Cole comments,

"According to today’s Supreme Court decision, advocating for human rights and peace can be prosecuted as a “terrorist” crime, punishable by 15 years in prison.
Under this ruling, President Jimmy Carter, in monitoring an election in Lebanon, would be providing “material support” to Hezbollah.

It does not matter that the speaker intends to support only nonviolent activity, and indeed seeks to discourage a resort to violence. It does not matter if the speech in fact convinces its listeners to abandon violence."

A few unelected American officials have claimed the right to make a very political decision that labels particular groups as "terrorist" and transforms their donors and any who become involved with them as criminals.

The only way out of this, given the unlikelihood of a legislative reversal, is to bring pressure on those who do the labeling. Any other prospects?

ES

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