[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union, (ACLU), the Constitution Project (CP), and the Rutherford Institute [advocacy websites] filed amici curiae briefs [ACLU brief, PDF; CP brief, PDF] Tuesday backing a challenge [JURIST report] to a federal law [18 USC § 2339B(a)(1)] that prohibits providing material support to terrorism. The groups supported a Humanitarian Law Project (HLP) [advocacy website] argument that the law defines "material support" too broadly. In a press release [text] that accompanied the filings, ACLU staff attorney Melissa Goodman summarized that group's view on the law:
The material support law is so vague and broad that peace, human rights and aid groups are left hopelessly guessing whether their constitutionally-protected speech could land them in jail...Cutting off aid to terrorism is undoubtedly an important government interest, but criminalizing legitimate peace-building and humanitarian work including advocacy to end terrorism and violence does nothing to further that interest and actually makes it more difficult to achieve.
The case, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project [CCR backgrounder], was granted certiorari [docket] by the US Supreme Court in September after the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down [opinion, PDF] parts of the law while upholding others. Earlier this month, the Constitution Project issued a report [text, PDF] calling for the reform of the material support laws which they claim criminalize protected speech. HLP has also challenged [JURIST report] Executive Order 13224 [DOT materials], which prohibits unlicensed US groups and individuals from providing services to certain terrorist organizations designated by the government.