Schumer seeking financial justice for 9/11 families

September 18, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Charles Schumer is working across the aisle on bipartisan legislation for the families of Sept. 11 victims. Eagle file photo by Bill Kotsatos
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U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer wants to make it easier for families of Sept. 11 victims to sue foreign countries that support terrorism.

Schumer (D-New York) is working across the aisle in the Senate with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on a bipartisan bill called the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act” (JASTA).

The legislation would allow families of Sept. 11 victims to sue foreign states and financial partners of terrorism for damages and financial compensation.  

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Since the Sept. 11 attacks, some court decisions have blocked terrorism-related claims, according to Schumer, who said that because of these judicial rulings Americans may have no recourse against the foreign states and groups that sponsor terrorist attacks.

As an example, Schumer and Cornyn pointed to a decision by the 2nd Circuit Court, which held that that sovereign immunity protected Saudi government so-called charities from Sept. 11 claims regarding support for the attacks. That court further ruled that terror victims pursing claims must satisfy a strict proximate causation test.

Schumer and Cornyn said that, if JASTA becomes law, it will help the victims of Sept. 11 and other acts of terrorism achieve justice by allowing them to sue countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar that fund terrorist groups like Al Qaeda.

JASTA would also allow a family member to sue those that fund ISIS, Hamas and other groups, should they kill an American in an act of terrorism on American soil.

“The bottom line is that victims of terror on American soil ought to have an ability to hold accountable the foreign powers and other entities that fund the hate-filled organizations that inflict injury and death on our fellow citizens,” Schumer said in a statement. “Unfortunately, our courts have prevented that and allowed countries like Saudi Arabia that has provided financial support to terror-linked operations to escape any repercussions. For countries to be able to aid the evil of terrorism and walk away scot-free while families suffer silently everyday with the loss of loved ones is wrong, unfair and painful, and this legislation undoes that injustice.”

Cornyn said the families that lost loved ones on Sept. 11 deserve to be heard in court so that they can seek “long overdue justice” against the responsible parties. “This legislation will allow families victimized by terrorism to proceed in court against their attackers‎ and hold them accountable for their actions,” he said.

JASTA allows terrorism victims, like victims of the September 11th attacks, the right to pursue foreign states and sponsors of terrorism in federal court. The bill allows Americans to direct financial damage claims against those who funded the attacks.

The legislation would also afford this same right to sue right to families of other American victims of terrorism that have occurred since Sept. 11, 2001.

The Schumer-Cornyn bill would amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSA) so that foreign sponsors of terrorism cannot invoke “sovereign immunity” in cases arising from a terrorist attack that kills an American on American soil, and amend federal law so that civil suits against foreign sponsors of terrorism can proceed U.S. courts.




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