"The decision sends a clear message that the First Amendment does not protect even the most benign forms of advocacy on behalf of groups designated as 'foreign terrorist organizations' by the Secretary of State," said Stephen I. Vladeck of the American University Washington College of Law.
"As a result, the government will be able to apply its counterterrorism weapon of choice -- the material support statute -- to a far wider range of cases than it could previously. Only where the advocacy is truly 'independent,' in the words of the chief justice's opinion for the court, will it fall outside the scope of one of the harshest federal criminal laws on the books," Vladeck said.
David Cole, Fertig's lawyer who sits on the board of the Center for Constitutional Rights, released a statement today saying, "We are deeply disappointed. The Supreme Court has ruled that human rights advocates, providing training and assistance in the nonviolent resolution of disputes, can be prosecuted as terrorists. In the name of fighting terrorism, the court has said that the First Amendment permits Congress to make it a crime to work for peace and human rights. That is wrong."