KindHearts Decision Opens Door to Reform

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August 20, 2009
Kay Guinane

Finally, a federal court has taken a reasoned look at how national security laws are applied to charities, and found serious constitutional flaws.  On Aug. 18, 2009, in KindHearts v. Treasury, Judge James Carr ruled that shutting down a charity "pending investigation" and seizing its assets indefinitely violates basic rights. This is especially so because the charity has no real opportunity defend itself.  

This decision is both significant and timely.  It rights a terrible wrong- freezing funds for humanitarian aid for over three years, with no effort by Treasury to ensure people in need ever get the assistance intended. Congress should take notice and investigate the charity situation and the administration should continue its dialog with the charitable sector to find solutions to the problem.
Our network is currently drafting reform proposals that we think will protect humanitarian aid, U.S. charities and public safety.  In the months ahead we look forward to working with federal authorities to fix this broken system. This is the constructive approach, and we hope Treasury follows this path, rather than appealing a sound ruling.