September 30th, 2009
12:30 PM ET
5 years ago

Justices to review Patriot Act provision

The Supreme Court will review a key provision of the 2001 Patriot Act.
The Supreme Court will review a key provision of the 2001 Patriot Act.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Supreme Court has agreed to review a civil liberties dispute over the government's power to criminalize "support" of a terrorist organization.

The justices on Wednesday accepted review of a key provision of the 2001 Patriot Act, and whether it threatens free speech rights of those who would assist non-violent activities of designated groups.

Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States, federal prosecutors have pursued "material support" cases against at least 120 individuals or organizations, winning convictions in about half of those cases. Nearly every such domestic terrorism-related prosecution has included that charge as part of the indictment.

At issue is whether the congressional law allows prosecution of those with knowledge of "any service, training, expert advice or assistance" to a foreign terrorist organization, as designated by the U.S. government.

A federal appeals court in San Francisco, California, struck down several parts of the legislation, finding them too vague to satisfy the Constitution. The government then asked the high court to intervene and uphold the law.

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