On Friday, December 18, 2020, CLCMA, at 9:00 a.m. Central Standard Time, Director Charles Swift will appear before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to challenge a Muslim man’s conviction for supporting lawful combatant activities of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the Syrian Civil War against Bashar Al-Assad.
Mr. Harcevic was convicted under the federal material support statute applied to terrorism offenses on the grounds that his support was used against the government of Assad. But, beginning in December 2012, President Obama recognized the Syrian National Opposition Council, for which the FSA fought, as the legitimate governmental representative of the Syrian people. During the period when the defendant Mr. Harcevic provided support to the FSA, the U.S. recognized the Syrian opposition and its claim to de jure sovereignty as superior to that of the Assad regime.
The Supreme Court has long held that, when the United States Executive recognizes a lawful belligerency, here the FSA, United States courts lack the power—i.e., have no jurisdiction—to consider as criminal those acts of hostility which war authorizes. Thus, trying and convicting Mr. Harcevic for supporting the FSA violates the separation of powers by encroaching on the President’s authority under Article II of the Constitution.
The case is Armin Harcevic v. United States, Case No. 19-2755.
Members of the public can call in to listen to the argument live at:
1-888-363-4749 Starting at 9:00 am Central Standard Time
Access Code 4423562
Audio of the argument can be found here: