COURT UPHOLDS U.S. LAW ALLOWING PRESIDENT TO DESIGNATE GROUPS AS TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS
A law that allows the U.S. president to designate groups as terrorist organizations, freeze their assets and block aid to them was upheld by a federal appeals court in San Francisco today.
The International Emergency Economic Powers Act was enacted by Congress in 1977 and was originally used by presidents to impose economic sanctions on foreign nations considered a threat to national security.
In 2001, President George W. Bush issued executive orders under the law that enabled him, through the Treasury Department, to designate groups as terrorist organizations, freeze their assets and prohibit any aid or services to the groups. The penalty for violating the law is a fine of either $250,000 or twice the amount of money given to a group.
The procedure was challenged in federal court in Los Angeles by the Humanitarian Law Project, which sought to aid the Kurdistan Workers' Party in Turkey and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam in Sri Lanka.
Project lawyers argued that the law was unconstitutionally vague and that it violated the First Amendment right of free speech.
But a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled by a 2-1 vote that the law regulates conduct, not speech, and does not violate the Constitution. The court majority said, "There is no right to provide resources with which terrorists can buy weapons and explosives."