Two Law Review Articles Criticize Impact of Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project

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March 1, 2012

Two recent law review articles take a critical look at the Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project Supreme Court decision. Humanitarian Law Project and the Supreme Court’s Construction of Terrorism, by Wadie E. Said, criticizes the Court for upholding the government’s ban on “material support” of terrorism, even when the support is intended for humanitarian assistance or peacebuilding. The government argued in the case that terrorist organizations are “so tainted by their criminal conduct that any contribution to such an organization facilitates [terrorism].” However, the author notes a “troubling” lack of evidence for this concept—only an affidavit from a State Department official, a book from a former Treasury Department Official, and an amicus brief are cited. The author concludes that because of the decision, “now expressions of solidarity such as working within a group for peaceful change are not allowed.”

The Supreme Court, Material Support, and the Lasting Impact of Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, by Robert Chesney, argues that the scope of Holder v. HLP is limited and “decides relatively little with respect to close cases that may arise in the future.” The author warns, however, that “the mere prospect of prosecution” under the material support statute can have a substantial impact on civil society and advocacy groups."

 An overview of the Holder v. HLP case can be found here