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The Champion

August 2010 , Page 53 

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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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