The Supreme Court today upheld a US law that bars "material support" to foreign terrorist organizations, rejecting a free speech challenge from humanitarian aid groups. The court ruled, 6-3, that the government may prohibit all forms of aid to designated terrorist groups, even training and advice for entirely peaceful and legal activities. "Such support frees up other resources within the organization that may be put to violent ends," John Roberts said in the majority opinion.
Stephen Breyer took the unusual step of reading his dissent aloud in the courtroom, saying he strongly rejected the idea "that the Constitution permits the government to prosecute the plaintiffs criminally" for providing instruction and advice about the terror groups' lawful political objectives. Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor joined the dissent. The Obama administration said the "material support" law is one of its most important terror-fighting tools. It has been used about 150 times since Sept. 11, resulting in 75 convictions.