Sotomayor the voice of reason?

Posted by Jason | Posted in Foreign Policy, Government | Posted on 24-02-2010


While many of my conservative friends won’t agree with me, I must say I was surprised to see Justice Sotomayor being the voice of reason on the court when it comes to the government going after terrorist abettors.

The Supreme Court wrestled to find the line between First Amendment rights and the fight against terrorism Tuesday during oral arguments over a law barring people from providing “material support” to foreign terrorist organizations.

Prosecutors favor the material-support charge because it is broad enough to cover a range of activities linked to terrorist organizations, from collecting funds to shouldering a rifle. But by making it a crime to provide “training,” “personnel” and “expert advice” to such groups—even for, say, peaceful ends such as disaster relief—the law sweeps too far into the rights of U.S. citizens to speak and associate freely, critics say.

Highlights are mine. Prosecutors love broad laws, because all they care about is convicting someone. The truth is not their concern. Most of them are looking for higher office, and the more convictions they get, the tougher they can claim to be on crime. Let’s not pretend the ultimate goal is to get to the truth.

The lawsuit was filed in 1998 by people who wanted to offer what they view as benign support to the Kurdistan Workers Party in the Middle East and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka, which the U.S. designated as foreign terrorist organizations in 1997.

Though neither group has targeted Americans, justices were aware of the case’s implications.

“Suppose the group is not the two that we have here, but al Qaeda and the Taliban?” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor challenging the law.

Ah Oh! The boogieman. Maybe the geniuses in congress could pass a law with the names al Qaeda and the Taliban in them, so you could fix this problem. Besides, in my naive view of the Supreme Court, I thought their job was to determine constitutionality of laws. Where was al Qaeda, Taliban or terrorist for that matter written in the constitution? You could use this argument from Justice Ginsburg in regards to any activity. Next time the second amendment comes up, what if Ginsburg says “Suppose we don’t have these two people here, but al Qaeda and the Taliban? Do we want them to have guns?”

“It would pose a very different constitutional question,” Mr. Cole said, as lending support to groups taking up arms against the U.S. could be considered akin to treason or aiding the enemy.

Hey, here’s a thought. The constitution actually addresses treason, and if we are at war with the Taliban and al Qaeda, helping them would fall under treason.

Mr. Cole’s clients filed suit seeking a court ruling that their intended activities, such as helping the Tigers get aid following the 2004 tsunami in Asia, were not covered by the law. “It is advocating only lawful, peaceable activities,” Mr. Cole said.

Justice Anthony Kennedy suggested that it could be difficult to draw such a bright line. “If you get tsunami money, that frees up your other assets for terrorist money, so why can’t the government forbid teaching how to get that money?” he said.

Solicitor General Elena Kagan, representing the government, said that was the law’s point.

“Hezbollah builds bombs. Hezbollah also builds homes,” she said, referring to the Lebanon-based Shiite Muslim faction that is also designated a foreign-terrorist organization. “What Congress decided was when you help Hezbollah build homes, you are also helping Hezbollah build bombs.”

This has to be the worst argument ever. Why should we be able to donate to the Red Cross then? If the Red Cross goes in to help Palestinians, then Hezbollah would not have to pay for the help that the Red Cross provided. Since they don’t have to pay, Hezbollah now has money freed up for building bombs.

Several justices seemed troubled by the claim that virtually any interaction with such groups could be prohibited. The government has said that even filing legal briefs on behalf of a designated organization would violate the law.

“Under the definition of this statute, teaching these members to play the harmonica would be unlawful,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said.

As my title says, it’s amazing to me that the woman I didn’t want to make it to the bench is the voice of reason in this case.  While neocons think she’s an idiot for this (read comments on the Wall Street Journal) because they love big government when it comes to foreign policy and fighting boogiemen, I don’t trust the government with foreign policy and the taking of my rights in pursuit of their wrong headed foreign policy. Neocons don’t trust the government with domestic policies, but they give the government a blank check with their freedoms when it comes to any “war on….” insert latest war title here.

As I said above, there is a means to try treason written in the constitution. We do not need laws that take away our liberties at the whim of government prosecutors and bureaucrats. With laws like this, the government can imprison any group of people that challenge them. What if the government thought the teaparties were getting a little to powerful for them? They could easily label Joe Stack’s attack on the IRS as a terrorist act. Then in pursuit of terrorism look into and prosecute anyone who is speaking out too boldly against government taxation. They could label militia groups terrorists, and then go after anyone who sold militia guns or was ever involved in militia.

Do not trust the government with you liberties. They do not care about protecting you. All they care about is the perception of protection in order to get you to hand over your liberties.

The Supreme Court should rule in favor of the Humanitarian Law Project, and the burden should be heavily placed on the government to prove their was treason and harm to our country.

A decision in the case, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, is expected by July.

via Justices Wrestle With Terror Law –

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