The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal law forbidding support for peaceful activities to terrorist organizations.
In the case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, the court ruled 6 to 3 that Congress and the executive branch could bar all “material support,” including training and advice of a peaceful and legal nature, to organizations considered terrorist under the Patriot Act. The court said in the June 21 decision that the action does not violate free speech rights.
The law has been invoked about 150 times since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, but rarely for humanitarian assistance. The case was brought by aid groups that trained a Kurdish organization in Turkey on how to bring human rights complaints to the United Nations and offered assistance in peace negotiations, according to the Washington Post.
The Anti-Defamation League welcomed the ruling; it had filed a brief in the case.
“One cannot provide ‘humanitarian’ support in the form of training, expert advice or assistance, service, and personnel to a terrorist organization without helping their bottom line and facilitating violence, destruction and murder,” Robert Sugarman, the ADL’s national chair, and Abraham Foxman, its national director, said in a statement issued following the ruling. “Any suggestion to the contrary is naive and an example of wishful thinking that can have deadly consequences.”