The Supreme Court decision this week defining and clarifying “material support” as it relates to aid to designated terrorist organizations is a huge victory in this continuing war. In a 6 to 3 decision, the Court rejected a First Amendment challenge from humanitarian aid groups claiming the support is intended to move the terrorist groups toward peaceful and legal activities. The Court ruled that such support was illegal even if its intention was to support “non-violent” elements within such terrorist organizations.
The humanitarian aid groups were challenging provisions that “talking to terrorist organizations about non-violent activities” was material support as defined by the State Department. State Department designation as a “terrorist organization” bars material support from money to technical know-how to legal advice.
The decision strengthens an important weapon against terrorism that in lower courts has been challenged as vague and unconstitutional. It has been used by the Federal government on about 150 occasions since 9/11 resulting in convictions in half of the cases.
It reminds all of us as to what these terrorist organizations represent and does not lend legitimacy to their activities. It makes no distinction between the “moderate” and “radical” elements of these organizations but treats them as to who they are – terrorists.