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National Security Watch: Mens Rea and Material Support of Terrorism
By Michael Price
Mens Rea and Material Support Of Terrorism: How Congress Should Respond to Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project
On June 21, 2010, the Supreme Court upheld an extremely broad
application of federal laws prohibiting material support for designated
foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs).1 Writing for a
six-justice majority, Chief Justice Roberts ruled in Holder v.
Humanitarian Law Project (HLP) that it was “the considered judgment” of
Congress to criminalize “even seemingly benign support,” including pure
political speech meant to advance the use of international law to reduce
conflict, advance human rights, and promote peace.2 According to the HLP Court, such speech constitutes “material support” of terrorism, as defined by 18 U.S.C. § 2339B.
This decision is more than a disappointment to humanitarian groups,
journalists, lawyers, and academics; it significantly expands the scope
of § 2339B, criminalizing activities widely regarded as legal,
desirable, and protected b
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