Judge Rules Government Violated Charity's Rights
by Amanda Adams*
Aug 21, 2009
A federal judge ruled that the government cannot freeze an organization's assets without obtaining a warrant based upon probable cause. The court also found that the organization must first have notice of the basis for freezing its assets and an opportunity to defend itself. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Treasury Department froze tens of millions of dollars in assets held by eight charities within the United States without warrants and court approval.
In 2006 the Treasury Department froze about $1 million in assets of KindHearts, a Columbus, Ohio charity as part of a terrorism investigation. The group has never been found to have engaged in any wrongdoing, but it has been effectively shut down. For two years KindHearts could not even use its own money to pay lawyers. Ten advocacy groups, including OMB Watch, filed a friend of the court brief in federal court expressing support for due process rights for nonprofits accused of supporting terrorism. The brief is available here.back to Blog