Federal District Judge James Carr issued a decision today ruling that the government had acted inappropriately when it shut down a Toledo, Ohio-based charity KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development.
Carr said the federal government has an obligation to show probable cause before seizing the assets of a charity it doesn’t like, adding that it also needed to get a warrant and give the charity a chance to respond to any allegations.
The Treasury Department ordered the group shut down and all its assets frozen, claiming it supported terrorists. Years later, the government has never charged anyone involved in the organization with any crime, though it has claimed that in 2003 someone spoke favorably about Hezbollah during a fundraising event for the group and insists the group is “tied to Hamas”
The Justice Department has claimed the government doesn’t need a warrant or to present any evidence to freeze such assets, since some of the money was to be exported overseas and it technically remains in the organization’s name, though the government has prevented them from accessing the money for years.
The ACLU praised the ruling, saying it underscored that the Office of Foreign Asset Control at the Treasury Department’s ability to seize property without due process is unconstitutional.