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Ninth Circuit Decision Is Partial Victory For Oregon Non-Profit Group And Its Supporters

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently issued a decision in a long-running challenge to the designation of an Oregon non-profit organization by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, U.S. Department of Treasury. This designation shut down the organization and prevented other groups from advocating on its behalf. Lynne Bernabei and Alan Kabat, along with co-counsel, represented this group in the district court and on appeal.

The Court agreed with us that the government could not prevent other groups, such as the Multicultural Association of Southern Oregon (MCASO), from engaging in advocacy on behalf of the designated group, as that was an illegal content-based prohibition on their speech. The Medford Mail-Tribune quoted MCASO as praising this decision in allowing its members to exercise their constitutional rights to associate with others.

The Court also agreed with us that the freezing of the group’s assets for over six years violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of warrantless seizures. The Court remanded the case to the U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon for further proceedings on what to do with the frozen assets.

The Court also agreed with us that the government violated due process by not providing the group with constitutionally required notice and an opportunity to respond, or an unclassified summary of the classified information. However, the court upheld the designation of the group based on the classified information to which we had no access or ability to rebut. This decision has been widely covered by news outlets including The Recorder (San Francisco), Export Law Blog, and Courthouse News Services.

Lynne was subsequently interviewed by the Mail Tribune and KSKQ Radio of Ashland, along with Jim Bauermeister, the past president of the Multicultural Association of Southern Oregon, who discussed the important First Amendment consequences of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling.