Foreign Sovereign Immunity

Ninth Circuit Denies Rehearing En Banc in Cassirer

The legal saga surrounding the Cassirer family’s attempt to reclaim a Camille Pissarro painting seized by the Nazis has taken another step. Litigation in Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation has bounced among the Central District of California, the Ninth Circuit, the California Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court of the United States. (For more coverage…

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Supreme Court Grants Cert in Holocaust Expropriation Case

The Supreme Court granted cert this morning in Republic of Hungary v. Simon to consider further questions under the expropriation exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. In Republic of Germany v. Philipp(2021), the Supreme  Court held that the expropriation exception does not apply to a government’s taking of the property of its own nationals….

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Supreme Court Denies Cert in Fighter Jets Case

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court denied review in Blenheim Capital Holdings Ltd. v. Lockheed Martin Corp., a case asking whether the purchase of fighter jets and other military equipment is a commercial activity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Despite a circuit split on the question, the Solicitor General recommended that the Supreme Court…

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Solicitor General Recommends Denial of Cert in FSIA Case

Is a foreign government’s purchase of military equipment a “commercial activity” for purposes of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act’s (FSIA) commercial activity exception? In a brief filed on May 14, 2024, at the Supreme Court’s invitation, the Solicitor General (SG) answered “it depends.” This answer is surprising. It is in considerable tension—if not outright conflict—with…

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The Challenges of Suing Under JASTA

Foreign states may be sued in the United States only to the extent permitted by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). Over the years, Congress has amended the statute to create several exceptions to immunity for terrorism-related lawsuits, especially for those brought against states designated as “state sponsors of terrorism.”  But only a very small…

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It Is Harder Than It Looks to Sue State Sponsors of Terrorism

Rotem and Yoav Golan were injured in a 2015 terrorist attack in Israel when an assailant deliberately drove his car into a crowd of people. The Golans and their family sued Iran and Syria for various torts and for aiding and abetting a terrorist attack. Judge Trevor N. McFadden of the U.S. District Court for…

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Second Circuit Hears Halkbank Oral Argument

On February 28, 2024, the Second Circuit heard oral argument in United States v. Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. From the judges’ questions—which admittedly came almost exclusively from Judge Bianco—the panel seems likely to hold that Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank, is not immune under federal common law from criminal prosecution for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. That…

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Choice of Law in the American Courts in 2023

The thirty-seventh annual survey on choice of law in the American courts is now available on SSRN. The survey covers significant cases decided in 2023 on choice of law, party autonomy, extraterritoriality, international human rights, foreign sovereign immunity, adjudicative jurisdiction, and the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. So, on this leap day, we thought…

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What Does Customary International Law Say About Halkbank’s Immunity?

Tomorrow, the Second Circuit will hear argument in United States v. Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. to consider whether Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank (but not its central bank), is immune from criminal prosecution for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. Halkbank claimed immunity under both the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) and federal common law. The U.S….

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Ninth Circuit Gets Tangled Up in Minimum Contacts and Due Process

Do the Fifth Amendment’s due process protections require minimum contacts? And do those protections apply to foreign states sued under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA)? Those are the fundamental questions on which Ninth Circuit judges offered differing approaches as they resolved a recent petition for rehearing en banc. Regular TLB readers may recall that…

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