Last week we reported on Senator Feingold's proposed JUSTICE Act. Specifically, we highlighted Section 502's proposed requirement that the government prove that resources given to a terrorist organization were given with the specific intent that they be used for acts of violence. Although we focused on the negative repercussions for criminal "material support" prosecutions, it is important to consider the effect that this bill would have on civil lawsuits brought by victims of terrorism.
While historically the responsibility for punishing individuals and entities that aided terrorists has fallen to the government, private citizens who themselves have been victimized by acts of terrorism have joined in the fight against the terrorist infrastructure. Bringing claims under the Anti-Terrorism Act, victims of terrorism have made tremendous strides against terrorist financiers. Leading the charge in these cases has been the law firm of Motley Rice, LLC.
Commenting on the JUSTICE Act, the firm this week explained:
"The Motley Rice law firm of South Carolina, which represents thousands of terrorism victims, survivors, and victims' family members, strongly disapproves of Section 502 of proposed S.1686, the 'JUSTICE Act.' That section would amend the 1996 'material support' statute, mandating that prosecutors prove that terrorism suspects knew or intended that the material support or resources provided to terrorists would be used in carrying out terrorist activity. That additional burden of proof threatens to turn the clock back to 1995, ignore the lessons of the 9-11 attacks, and weaken our legal defenses against international terrorism."
Motley Rice properly recognizes that not only will the proposed legislation effectively eviscerate criminal prosecutions of terrorist supporters, but it will also damage the ability to hold those who provide financial, logistical, or other resources civilly liable.