NPR—Does The Patriot Act Violate Free Speech?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here is an exchange in 2007 between Judge Sidney Thomas and Justice Department lawyer Douglas Letter:

"If they file, for example, an amicus brief here, that would be a criminal act?"

"Yes, because Congress wants these organizations to be radioactive."

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that as applied in this case, the law is unconstitutional.

In the Supreme Court on Tuesday, lawyer David Cole, representing Fertig and the Humanitarian Law Project, will tell the justices that the government's "radioactive" argument flies in the face of the Constitution.

"The interest in stopping even pure speech, furthering no illegal ends, simply because you don't like an organization because you decided to make an organization 'radioactive,' is impermissible under our First Amendment," Cole said.

Juan Zarate, who served as President George W. Bush's deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism, counters that argument this way:

"I don't think anybody would say that we should allow somebody to go meet with Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar to help provide them with some PR training to make their case more effectively."

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

Posted February 24, 2010 at 1:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Ad Orientem wrote:

Some of the things done by the Bush Administration are just plain scary.  I am no fan of Obama.  But I thank God Bush is gone.

February 24, 3:30 pm | [comment link]
2. Chris wrote:

the Patriot Act had wide bipartisan support IIRC.  And I am skeptical of anything emanating from the 9th Circuit (San Francisco), it has a long history of dubious rulings that are later overturned….

February 24, 3:53 pm | [comment link]
3. Ad Orientem wrote:

Re # 2

the Patriot Act had wide bipartisan support IIRC.

You do.  But that is neither here nor there.  The Sedition Acts (WW I) also enjoyed wide bi-partisan support, as did the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.  I do not trust my government enough to give them authority over who may speak and who may not. 

And in any case there is little real difference between the two parties.  Both are pro-imperialist, pro-welfare, pro-huge debt, statist bodies that believe in big government telling people how to live their lives.  They differ substantively only with respect to which aspects of our lives the government should be dictating.  Democrats like regulating the economic part of our lives and Republicans favor regulating our morals.

A plague on both their houses.

February 24, 4:02 pm | [comment link]
4. Br. Michael wrote:

Yeah, why should government be concerned with morals.  The devil take the hindmost and just don’t get caught..

February 24, 6:59 pm | [comment link]
5. Ad Orientem wrote:

Government regulation of morals…  it’s worked so very well.  Why just ask the Iranians.

February 24, 7:06 pm | [comment link]
6. David Keller wrote:

#1,3,5—the 1st Amendment is not a suicide pact. There are evil people in the world who want to kill you. We have the right to stop them from doing it. Sending money to terrorists to kill you, is not protected speech.

February 25, 2:01 pm | [comment link]
7. Ad Orientem wrote:

Re # 6
Of course sending money to terrorists is not free speech.  But the right to present petitions in court IS.

February 25, 8:17 pm | [comment link]
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