Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act

Testimony in Opposition to the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act

By Paul Stephan
Thursday, July 14, 2016, 8:25 AM

Today at 10 am, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice will hold a hearing on S. 2040, the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.” As readers of this blog are aware, this bill passed the Senate unanimously and now is before the House. I will be part of a panel including Professor Jimmy Gurulé of Notre Dame University, Richard Klingler of Sidley & Austin, and Judge Michael Mukasey of Debevoise & Plimpton testifying on the bill. All of us worked in the Bush Administration on issues related to terrorism, and Gurulé and Klingler currently are involved in litigation on behalf of victims of terrorism. Judge Mukasey and I oppose the bill, which we think will hinder rather than promote antiterrorism and not bring justice to the 9/11 victims or anyone else in their shoes. Put briefly, I think the bill invites shrinkage of sovereign immunity abroad that will harm the United States and impede our antiterrorism activities, result in default judgments and refusals to pay rather than any justice to victims, and bizarrely privatizes antiterrorism by leaving it to litigants and judges, rather than the political branches, to determine what states sponsor terrorism. You can find my submitted remarks here.