Monday, June 21, 2010

Not with a bang...

Are you scared yet? As our American rights are slowly eroded away...I find myself (oddly) on the side of Justice Sotomayor.

Yahoo! news reports "High court upholds anti-terror law prized by Obama":
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court upheld the government's authority Monday to ban aid to designated terrorist groups, even when that support is intended to steer the groups toward peaceful and legal activities.
The aid groups were only challenging provisions that put them at risk of being prosecuted for talking to terrorist organizations about nonviolent activities.
The court often looks skeptically on laws that criminalize speech and holds them to a high level of scrutiny. But Roberts said there is good reason in this case to defer to Congress and the president, "uniquely positioned to make principled distinctions between activities that will further terrorist conduct and undermine United States foreign policy, and those that will not." [emphasis mine - I wonder what "principles" they will employ in those decisions?]
Justice Stephen Breyer took the unusual step of reading his dissent aloud in the courtroom. "Not even the 'serious and deadly problem' of international terrorism can require automatic forfeiture of First Amendment rights," he said. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor joined the dissent.
David Cole, a Georgetown law professor who represented the aid groups at the Supreme Court, said the court essentially ruled that "the First Amendment permits the government to make human rights advocacy and peacemaking a crime."
So now the federal government can decide what groups we can talk to, even if that speech is about peacemaking. I'm all for not helping terrorist groups, but one should be able to provide humanitarian aid and investigate human rights without fear of prosecution. As Justice Breyer states in his dissent, we cannot let our fears cause us to throw away our rights.

I guess I'd better pay Peter's Pence now, before the feds decide I don't have the right to.


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