Constitution Project Files Amicus Brief on First Amendment in U.S. Supreme Court

Brief follows the Project’s recently released report Reforming the Material Support Laws: Constitutional Concerns Presented by Prohibitions on Material Support to “Terrorist Organizations”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Matthew Allee, (202) 580-6922 or mallee@constitutionproject.org

WASHINGTON – Today, the Constitution Project and The Rutherford Institute filed a friend of the court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project. The case involves federal laws prohibiting “material support” of terrorist groups and challenges the application of these laws to organizations and individuals who seek to provide human rights training to a designated group. The amicus brief argues that applying the material support statutes to punish pure speech that seeks to further lawful, non-violent ends is unconstitutionally overbroad. The brief explains that the challenged provisions of the material support laws conflict with First Amendment protections for free speech and freedom of association, and should therefore be struck down by the Court.

Earlier this month, the Constitution Project’s Liberty and Security Committee released a report, Reforming the Material Support Laws: Constitutional Concerns Presented by Prohibitions on Material Support to “Terrorist Organizations,” that proposes eight reforms to remedy serious First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment concerns created by existing material support laws.

“The federal laws prohibiting assistance to terrorist organizations play an important role in our nation’s efforts to combat terrorism, but we must also ensure that these laws are not applied in a way that infringes upon Americans’ First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of association,” said Sharon Bradford Franklin, senior counsel for the Constitution Project. “This case provides an opportunity for the Supreme Court to rein in the unconstitutional use of the material support statutes to prohibit protected First Amendment activities. Our brief urges the Court to strike down the challenged provisions of the law, to ensure that terrorist activities are prohibited, but free speech and association are still safeguarded by the First Amendment.”

Click here to view a copy of the amicus brief filed in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project.

Click here to view the Constitution Project’s report, Reforming the Material Support Laws.

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