Pure political speech outlawed, for some.

March 12, 2012 | By | 3 Replies More

Check out Glenn Greenwald’s discussion of a SCOTUS decision that blesses a “terrorism” law that clearly infringes on the First Amendment, in conjunction with blatant violations of that law by Washington insiders.

Incredibly, the law allows the prosecution of people involved in pure political speech.

In June, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 6-3 ruling in the case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law. In that case, the Court upheld the Obama DOJ’s very broad interpretation of the statute that criminalizes the providing of “material support” to groups formally designated by the State Department as Terrorist organizations. The five-judge conservative bloc (along with Justice Stevens) held that pure political speech could be permissibly criminalized as “material support for Terrorism” consistent with the First Amendment if the “advocacy [is] performed in coordination with, or at the direction of, a foreign terrorist organization” (emphasis added). In other words, pure political advocacy in support of a designated Terrorist group could be prosecuted as a felony — punishable with 15 years in prison — if the advocacy is coordinated with that group.

Until recently, only Muslims have been prosecuted for engaging in this activity, not Washington Insiders.  That might be about to change, leading various Washington insiders to invoke the First Amendment.


Category: Civil Rights

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. Adam Herman says:

    From what I understood, the law covered things like legal advice or strategic advice. If it’s used to attack pure political advocacy, then we have a serious problem.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Glenn Greenwald has included in his article a list summarizing instances where people HAVE been prosecuted, including the following:

    “A Staten Island satellite TV salesman in 2009 was sentenced to five years in federal prison merely for including a Hezbollah TV channel as part of the satellite package he sold to customers.”

  3. Adam Herman says:

    I agree, but what would you think if he had run an illegal political ad under the old BCRA rules, pre-Citizens United? Would it be okay to throw him in jail then?

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