Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, 130 S.Ct. 2705 (2010)

The Holder v. Humanitarian etc. case is the first of four cases decided by the Supreme Court reversing the Ninth Circuit on the same day. See, Rent-A-Center West, Inc. v. Jackson, 2010 WL 2471055 (Arbitration); Monsanto Co. v. Geerston Seed Farms, 2010 WL 2471058 (Environment); Kawasaki Kisen Kalsha LTD. v. Regal-Beloit Corp. 2010 WL 2471056 (Forum Selection Clauses) In 1996 Congress passed the Anti Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, 18 U.S.C. 2339B prohibiting anyone from providing ” material support or resources” to certain foreign organizations that engage in terrorist activity. The plaintiffs filed litigation to prevent enforcement of the statute against their attempt to provide “humanitarian and non violent services” to two groups whom the State Department had listed as terrorist organizations. Plaintiffs alleged the statute, as applied to them, violated the First and Fifth Amendments. The Ninth Circuit agreed, at least in part, and struck down certain portions of the statute on grounds the terms were too vague; 552 F.3d 916 (2009). The U.S. government appealed. The Supreme Court upheld the statute in every respect, at least as to the facts in this case. The Court majority rejected the plaintiffs’ contention that they were engaged in assisting in providing peaceful means to the terrorist organization. That a terrorist organization somehow distributes these funds to non-terrorist activities defies reason. Terrorists do not construct “firewalls” to distinguish the appropriate location for receipt of funds or services. Funding terrorists for so-called “peaceful purposes” is an oxymoron. Funding provides the means for imposing terrorist objectives and reduces dependence on collateral sources. That the three dissenting judges think the plaintiffs’ funds will be used for peaceful purposes can hardly be characterized as anything other than naive, to put it mildly.