Free Essay About Holder V. Humanitarian Law Project, ET Al

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Law, Terrorism, Criminal Justice, Crime, Terrorist, Court, Politics, Plaintiff

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2021/02/06

1. The plaintiff’s challenges to the law centered on two main arguments. First, under the void-for-vagueness doctrine which derives from the due process clauses of the Fifth Amendment, prohibits criminal laws that lack the necessary specificity and definiteness that allows people to understand what is or is not legal conduct. According to the plaintiffs, Section 2339B was unconstitutionally vague because terms in the statute, namely: “training”, “expert advice or assistance”, “service,” and “personnel” can be so broadly defined that they do not provide clear guidelines for what acts would be a violation of the law. Second, under the First Amendment’s freedom of expression and association clauses, the plaintiffs argue that Section 2339B’s prohibition of provide “material support to any organization classified as terrorist by the Secretary of State” criminalizes plaintiff’s provision of material support to classified groups without showing how that provision was connection to furthering the unlawful end of those groups. Furthermore, it allows “permissible viewpoint discrimination by targeting particular groups and their supporters based on their political views. Lastly it allows the government to bring a prosecution through “guilt by association”.
2. The Court held that Section 2339B was not unconstitutionally vague as applied to the activities of the plaintiffs. First, changes to the law by Congress “increased the clarity” of the definitions. Second, the plaintiffs often used the same terms to describe their own actions, so they should clearly understand what actions are covered by the law. Third, the Court found that the terms are not as broad as other terms the Court has found to be vague such as “annoying or “indecent.” In addition, the Court found that the law does not violate the First Amendment. First, the law does not ban independent advocacy of the plaintiffs for the classified groups, but rather speech in coordination or by direction of organizations the speaker knows to be terrorist. Second, any activity that provides material support for a terrorist organization will necessarily assist it in its illegal activities. Under the Court’s analysis material support in the form of training, teaching and engaging in political advocacy for a terrorist groups could be used by the group to support its broader goals of promoting terrorism. Lastly, the Court said that the law does not criminalize simply associating with a terrorist group, but rather outlaws providing them with material support.
3. As described by the Court, I do not think the statute infringes on the rights of the plaintiffs. Based on the facts of the case, it is clear that the plaintiffs would understand what the terms in question meant because, as the Court pointed out, the often used the terms themselves in describing their own acts. That clearly illustrates that would not be confused as to what actions the law was directed against. I also agree that terrorist groups can and most likely use any material support the plaintiffs provide to ultimately use as a way of either legitimizing their unlawful actions promoting themselves. I think it is reasonable that the plaintiffs can independently advocate for the groups but should not be allowed to do it by their direction.
1. The Humanitarian Law Project (HLP) challenged Section 2339 (B) of the USA Patriot Act on the grounds that it violated the Fifth Amendment’s due process restriction on vague laws and the First Amendment’s restrictions on laws that prohibit free speech and association. Specifically, HLP argues that certain terms used in the law are too vague to be understood by the public or consistently applied by the courts. Second, HLP argues that the law makes illegal its efforts to teach and train the groups on humanitarian actions without showing that HLP activities will further the groups’ terrorist activity. Moreover, HLP argues that the law makes them criminals simply by their association with the groups.
2. The Court ruled that the law was constitution because while the terms in conflict might be vague in other cases, they were not vague or unclear in this specific case with these specific plaintiffs, namely the HLP. Moreover, the Court found that the government’s interest in fighting terrorism outweighs the plaintiff’s free speech rights if those free speech rights directly facilitate a terrorist group’s unlawful activities. Here the Court found that training and teaching terrorist groups in humanitarian activities, will necessarily facilitate their unlawful activities by freeing up time, money and resources that the groups can use to kill, damage or injure.
3. I think the law does infringe on HLP’s constitutional rights. Not in regards to the law being vague but in regards to its rights to free speech. First I think it eliminates the right of HLP and groups like them to convince others that groups, even terrorist groups, may have legitimate goals that can be supported in the hopes that they will eventually transform the illegitimate goals. As the law stands, a terrorist group once designated will stay that way until they are eliminated or they themselves reform. I think the former is more likely than the latter, especially if the law makes it illegal to assist reform minded members of terrorist groups.
1. The plaintiffs, also known as HLP, argues that the law violated their First and Fifth Amendment rights to train members of groups, which the government has classified as terrorist organizations, in humanitarian and international law to peacefully resolve their disputes. According to the HLP, the Constitution allows them to associate with anyone they chose to. Furthermore, the Constitution supports speech that cannot be shown to incite or further unlawful activities. Furthermore, HLP argues that certain terms in the statute are unclear and therefore serve little or no legal purpose.
2, The Court agreed with the government’s argument that providing training and advocacy for the humanitarian sections of terrorist groups in essence helps these groups primary terrorist aims. Accordingly, the laws restriction of any plaintiff’s actions that contribute to or are directed by a terrorist organization, such as training can be restricted are constitution al because the government has an important interest in stopping the continued existence of terrorist organizations.
3. I do think that the statute does infringe on the rights of the plaintiffs. First under the law, the plaintiffs could be criminally prosecuted for providing assistance through teaching and training activities that promote peace, non-violence or otherwise attempt to persuade terrorists groups to give up their violent ways. It seems that the promotion of non-violence by the plaintiffs surely outweighs the government interest in fighting terrorism. Surely, the Founding Fathers would have supported the promotion of non-violence over stifling of speech.
1. The plaintiff argue that their work to teach “terrorist” organizations alternative and peacefully means of accomplishing their goals if protected by the First Amendment’s prohibition on laws that tell a person who they can associate with and what they can say through what they teach. The plaintiff argues that the law violates these rights. Secondly, the plaintiff’s argues that in attempting to prohibit certain actions the law makes use of terms that provide little to no guidance of helping them understand what part of their actions are illegal. Accordingly, the plaintiff’s argue that the law is unconstitutionally ambiguous under the Fifth Amendment’s requirement that all laws be clear.
2. In a 6-3 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the law’s prohibition of “expert advice,” “training,” “service” and “personnel” as applied to the plaintiffs were not vague but, in fact, were clearly understood by the plaintiffs. The Court acknowledged that the laws clarity may not be sustained in every instance but in that case of the plaintiffs it does. The Court also held that the plaintiff’s actions in teaching, training and advocacy were material support for terrorist organizations. This support, the Court held, had the potential of helping terrorist organization’s unlawful activities by to redirect resources in the pursuit of terrorist activity. Accordingly, the government’s interest in denying terrorist organizations legitimacy and existence superseded the plaintiff’s First Amendment interests and right to free speech.
3. I don’t think the law infringed on the plaintiff’s constitutional rights. Every constitutional right has limits. No one can deny that the purpose of any government is to keep its people safe, including safety from terrorist attacks. One way to eliminate the threat posed by terrorists is to eliminate them. The plaintiff’s freedom of speech is limited only in the event that their support for the terrorist organization directly helps a terrorist organization survive and continue operating. The law does not prohibit simply independently advocating for a group or even associating with them. This keeps to the standards of the First Amendment to protect all speech, even speech that is controversial.
1. The Humanitarian Law Project (HLP) argues that the law criminalizes political speech in the promotion of lawful and non-violent activities in contravention to the First Amendment. In particular, the HLP argues that its acts of teaching and training of non-dispute resolution tactic to terrorist groups should be classified as political speech and that the laws prohibitions of it are illegal. Secondly, HLP argues that provisions of the law are unconstitutionally vague because they fail to provide the necessary precision which citizens, law enforcement and the courts need for the law to be effectively implemented as required by the Fifth Amendment.
2. The Supreme Court held that activities that plaintiff activities which independently advocates for terrorist groups or speech on behalf of the terrorist organizations that was not directed by them was protected under the Constitution. But speech r activities that directly helped the organizations such as training them even in non-violent advocacy or helped them directly in any way such as providing them with humanitarian aid was not protected by the Constitution because it ran against the government’s legitimate and important right to oppose terrorist at every level. Furthermore, the Court held, as the law applies to the HLP, it was not vague because unlike average citizens, the HLP’s experience in these matter provides it with the necessary knowledge to understand the meaning of the law.
3. I think the law does infringe on HLP’s rights. The terms in the law are too broad and can be used by the government to target a wide range of activity that it deems illegal but that under the Constitution is protected. Moreover, criminalizing acts such as humanitarian aid and trainings for non-violent dispute resolution seem to oppose the government’s interest in opposing terrorist groups. While the activities of the plaintiff’s might not be focused on the eradication of the groups it is focused on transforming the violent elements into good. That in and of itself does not affect the groups unlawful acts.

Works Cited

Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, 130 Supreme Court. Supreme Court. 21 June 2010. Print.
“Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project – Plaintiff’s Opening Brief .” Center for Constitutional Rights., 16 Dec. 2009. Web. 09 Apr. 2015.
“Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project – Government’s Opening Brief.” Center for Constitutional Rights., 22 Dec. 2009. Web. 09 April. 2015.

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