US Court rules on First Amendment case

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 09 June 1998, 23:59 GMT]
The United States Court for the Central District of California yesterday ruled that the actions of the World Tamil Coordinating Committee (WTCC) which distributed LTTE literature and informational materials on LTTE throughout the United States were protected by the First Amendment and accordingly the Plaintiffs were entitled to a preliminary injunction on this ground but denied the Plaintiffs' motion for injunction with respect to provision of material support to the LTTE and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"Judge Audrey Collins ruling yesterday ensures that there is no prohibition in distributing LTTE literature, transmitting LTTE materials and promoting LTTE by using human resources," said legal sources.

Oral argument was held yesterday on a Motion for Preliminary Injunction in the case of Humanitarian Law Project vs Reno, in which five Tamil associations and a Federation comprising of 30 Tamil organizations, among others, asked the California Court to issue a preliminary injunction enjoining Attorney General Reno from enforcing provisions of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) that made it a crime to provide material support for the lawful activities of the LTTE and the PKK.

The Court observed that "the AEDPA does not prevent Plaintiffs from engaging in political expression or advocating on behalf of or associating with others who believe in the causes championed by the PKK and the LTTE."

The AEPDA defines "material support or resources" as "currency or other financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel, transportation, and other physical assets, except medicine or religious materials."

Judge Audrey Collins, in a tentative decision, indicated that the terms "personnel" and "training" in the statute are impermissively vague and violated the United States Constitution. Judge Collins granted an injunction on this ground and severed those terms from the Statute.

With respect to the prohibition on the provision of other material support to the LTTE and the PKK, the Court said that this prohibition was unrelated to the protections accorded to freedom of speech and association by the United States Constitution and thus denied the Plaintiffs' motion for injunction in relation to that.

"The Judge will issue the final order in the next few days and it is expected that both the Plaintiffs and the United States Government will file expedited appeals to the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit," said legal sources.

Professor Cole of George Washington University, the lead counsel in this action, told TamilNet that he is confident that the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit will grant an injunction with respect to the prohibition pertaining to material support to the LTTE and PKK.

 

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