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Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project

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The Humanitarian Law Project case involved peace and human rights activists who sought an injunction permitting them to train militant terrorist groups to use international law in resolving disputes. Although this ruling infringed upon the activists' First Amendment liberties, the Supreme Court held in a 6 - 3 decision that the U.S. government has a compelling interest in preventing terrorism.



On June 21, 2010, the Supreme Court held that federal statute's prohibitions on "expert advice," "training," "service," and "personnel" were not vague, and did not violate speech or associational rights as applied by plaintiffs' intended activities. At issue in this case is the constitutionality of the "material support" statute, 18 U.S.C.§ 2339b. The term "material support" means "any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individuals who may be or include oneself), and transportation... ."[1]

Although the court acknowledged that these freedoms are fundamental rights protected by the first amendment, the state satisfied strict scrutiny by having a compelling interest in denying support to terrorist groups. The Court reasoned that providing such support would be congruent to promoting illegal activity.[2] Therefore, statutory limitations of such support meet constitutional muster. 


  1. http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2009/2008_08_1498
  2. http://ccrjustice.org/holder-v-humanitarian-law-project

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