Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ninth Circuit: Freezing of Islamic Charity's Assets Unconstitutional

In the continuing legal sage of the now defunct Al Haramain Islamic Foundation (AHIF-Oregon), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a decision upholding the federal government's redesignation of the group as a specially designated global terrorist but concluding that the government's warrantless freezing of the nonprofit's assets violated the Fourth Amendment.  It remanded the case to determine what judicial relief, if any, is available. The court also found the government violated the First Amendment rights of another nonprofit, the Multicultural Association of Southern Oregon or MCASO, when it effectively barred MCASO from coordinating its advocacy with AHIF-Oregon.  As previously blogged, a federal district also ordered the government late last year to pay $2.5 million, mostly consisting of legal fees, because of illegal wiretapping of the group's officials. 

One important take-away from the decision is that the court upheld the designation in significant part because an individual who had been designated a global terrorist was a member of the nonprofit's board of directors.  That connection alone was sufficient to essentially end the nonprofit's existence, even if it now has a pyrrrhic victory with respect to the government's freezing of its assets.

Additional coverage: NY Times; Reuters.



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