The Supreme Court is considering a case involving the antiterrorism Patriot Act and whether it is unconstitutional to prevent groups from supporting organizations that engage in terrorist activities.
At issue is a part of the Patriot Act called the material support law which prohibits anyone from providing material support to a group that the secretary of state has labeled a terrorist organization.
A Californian group Humanitarian Law Project claims the vagueness of the law violates First Amendment rights to free speech and association.
In this video, NewsHour legal correspondent Marcia Coyle explains the constitutional questions about free speech versus national security that are up for discussion.
"[The White House takes] the position that you really can't separate assistance for lawful activities from assistance for unlawful activities when a terrorist organization is involved. - Marcia Coyle
"The government feels that it is not prohibiting speech. It says that groups like the Humanitarian Law Project can engage in independent advocacy or assistance to these other organizations, these terrorist organizations. It just cannot act with or in coordination with the terrorist organization." - Marcia Coyle
1. What rights are guaranteed by the First Amendment?
2. What does the right to free speech mean?
1. What is the Humanitarian Law Project's position in this case? What is the government's position?
2. What is your opinion of the case that the judges are considering? Do you think that the part of the Patriot Act that prohibits providing material support to designated terrorist organizations violates the rights to free speech and association? Explain your answer?
3. The right to free speech and security concerns are often at odds with each other. Can you think of other instances where this tension is at play?
4. When the U.S. or any other country is fighting a war, do you think that free speech or free association become less important? Why does this happen? What do you th