It’s like the Park Slope Food Coop Israel divestment battle all over again, this time in mild-mannered Minnesota. Hide your falafel, Land-of-ten-thousand-lakers!
The Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign announced that it intends to sue Minnesota’s State Board of Investment, in part because of claims that the Board’s purchase of Israel Bonds could open the state to ATCA liability. So says mondoweiss.net:
The SBI has a duty to protect the taxpayers and the state pension plan from lawsuits. By financially aiding and abetting Israel’s violation of Article 49 and other international laws, the SBI could potentially be sued by victims of these violations. These lawsuits could come under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), an 18th century law allowing foreigners to bring lawsuits in U.S. courts against those who aid and abet international law violations committed against them. Minnesota’s investment in Israel Bonds exposes the SBI and its agents, officers and employees to these lawsuits. Minnesota’s taxpayers would be stuck with the bill for defending against any such lawsuits and paying for any adverse judgments.
Because the SBI has refused to divest from its Israel Bond investments, before the end of November, MN BBC will serve a lawsuit on the Minnesota SBI seeking an order from the court directing the SBI to immediately divest from Israel Bonds and to refrain from purchasing more on the grounds that 1) the SBI’s investments in foreign government bonds (with the exception of Canadian bonds) are illegal according to Minnesota statutes; 2) investments in Israel Bonds aid and abet Israel’s continuing violations of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention contrary to international, U.S. and Minnesota law; and 3) by investing in illegal settlement activity, the SBI exposes Minnesota taxpayers and the state pension plan to potential lawsuits.
Good luck with that.
Last week, the Ninth Circuit denied rehearing in Bauman, et al. v. DaimlerChrysler, et al., in which 22 plaintiffs claimed the automaker cooperated with the Argentinian junta during the 1970s “Dirty War.” Watch this space for news as the case progresses. (Decision in PDF format)
Armin Rosen writes about Kiobel in The Atlantic:
If the Supreme Court sides against Kiobel, the scope of the Alien Tort Statute could severely narrow. Paul Hoffman, who is the lead attorney for Kiobel and also argued Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, says limiting the application of ATS would reinforce the corporations’ sense of impunity. “What’s at stake is the very important principle that if there’s a corporation involved in very serious human rights violations, are we going to shut the courthouse door on the victims trying to get accountability for those violations?” Hoffman, who is a member of Amnesty International’s International Executive Committee, adds, “If [the Supreme Court justices] affirm the Second Circuit decision that these cases can’t be brought at all, then if there’s another IG Farben in today’s world, they would get a pass,” referring to the German producer of Zyklon B gas used in Nazi concentration camps.
A new article in the Fordham International Law Journal: The Alien Tort Claims Act and Corporate Liability: A Threat to the United States’ International Relations. From the abstract:
This Note examines the newly-created circuit split between the Second Circuit and the Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits regarding corporate liability. Part I introduces the ATCA, chronicling its transformation from a short provision in the Judiciary Act of 1789 to the weapon of choice employed against international corporations for alleged human rights violations. Part II focuses on the newly-created circuit split, identifying important case law and the current standing of ATCA human rights corporate liability in all three circuits. Emphasis is placed upon the international implications of and reactions to these decisions. Finally, Part III concentrates on the international implications of the split and advances the argument that the Second Circuit correctly decided Kiobel in light of the ATCA’s purpose and the potential impact that continued ATCA litigation poses to US external relations.