Petition against Antiterrorism Law ruling filed in US Supreme Court
[TamilNet, Sunday, 24 December 2000, 10:49 GMT]
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a New York based non-profit organization, filed a petition with the United States Supreme Court asking the Court to exercise its discretion and review the decision of the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, which ruled that Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) does not violate the First and the Fifth Amendments of the US constitution, legal sources said.
Attorneys for plaintiffs in "Humanitarian Law Project vs Reno" sought in the Court of Appeals, in February 2000, to enjoin enforcement of prohibitions against providing material support or resources to foreign terrorist organization which were contained in the AEDPA.
Specific questions presented to the Courts were whether AEDPA violated the First and the Fifth Amendments (a) by criminalizing the provision of humanitarian aid to the lawful non-violent activities of selectively designated foreign organizations and (b) by delegating unfettered licensing discretion to the Secretary of State to designate groups as 'foreign terrorist organizations,' thereby criminalizing associational activity in support of their wholly lawful ends.
Judges D.W.Nelson, Kozinsky and Trott of the Court of Appeals in their 3rd March 2000 ruling, upheld an earlier District Court's ruling that the provisions at issue did not impose guilt by association and they did not unconstitutionally give the Secretary of State "unfettered discretion" to limit plaintiffs' right to associate with certain foreign organizations.
Judge Kozinski said that "while the First Amendment protects the expressive component of seeking and donating funds, expressive conduct receives significantly less protection than pure speech."
Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs said that although the Supreme Court accepts to hear only about 25% of cases submitted to them, since First Amendment issue is involved there is a high probability that Supreme Court will agree to hear this case.
Plaintiffs include five US-based Tamil Organizations and Dr. Jeyalingam, a Jaffna-born Tamil surgeon who is a naturalized US citizen.
Attorneys Professor David Cole (Georgetown University Law Center, Lead Counsel), Nancy Chang (CCR), Paul Hoffman, Carol Sobel and Rudrakumaran represented the petitioners.
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