– Today the
Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), approved
Clarification Act of 2018
, which makes needed improvements to
the Antiterrorism Act of 1992
, which was also authored by Grassley. The
legislation will better ensure that American victims of international terrorism
can obtain justice in U.S. courts.
bill was introduced in
by Grassley, and it is cosponsored by Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Marco
Rubio (R-Fla.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Richard Blumenthal
(D-Conn.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), John Cornyn
(R-Texas) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
measure will now move to the full Senate for consideration. In the House of
Representatives, Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Ranking Member
Jerrold Nadler introduced companion legislation.
“Over twenty-five years ago, I led the Senate’s effort to pass the
Antiterrorism Act to improve justice for Americans victimized by acts of
terrorism abroad. Congress’ intent was clear: U.S. victims of international
terrorism should be able to seek justice in U.S. courts against those
responsible, no matter where the attacks occurred. But recent flawed court
decisions have undermined the law’s purpose. Our bill is a carefully balanced
approach to better ensure victims’ access to compensation and to hold
supporters of terrorism accountable. I thank my colleagues on the committee for
their bipartisan work to advance this bill, and I look forward to further
consideration in the full Senate” Grassley said.
brief description of the bill’s provisions follows.
Ending “Acts of War” Exemption Abuse
The Antiterrorism Act of 1992
exempted lawful “acts of war” from the scope of its civil liability provisions.
However, some defendants accused of aiding and abetting acts of international
terrorism have successfully claimed in court that the law’s “act of war” defense
shields them from civil liability, even when the act of terrorism was
perpetrated by a designated terrorist group. The Anti-Terrorism
Clarification Act of 2018 clarifies that the “act of war” defense does not
apply to acts carried out by entities designated as foreign terrorist
organizations by the U.S. government or any person that has been determined by
the court to not be a military force. This simple amendment will help ensure
that American victims of terrorism—including soldiers and other personnel
serving abroad—can have their rightful day in court.
Expanding Access to Remedies for
Victims of Narco-Terrorism
Under current law, American victims of
terrorism may use the assets of a perpetrating terrorist entity that are frozen
by the U.S. government to satisfy court-awarded judgments. Assets frozen under
the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (“Kingpin Act”), however,
currently remain unavailable to victims of terrorism. This leaves victims of
narco-terrorism or other drug-related terrorist activity without a meaningful
method of satisfying their Antiterrorism Act judgments. The Anti-Terrorism
Clarification Act clarifies that assets blocked under the Kingpin Act are
available to victims.
Clarifies U.S. Court Jurisdiction in
Foreign Terrorism Cases
Recent flawed court decisions have
called into question the Antiterrorism Act’s continued ability to hold
terrorists or their supporters accountable in U.S. courts. For example, the
Supreme Court’s recent decision to deny certiorari in Sokolow v. Palestine
—a case in which Chairman Grassley led a
bipartisan amicus brief
—leaves in place a flawed circuit court decision
gutting the extraterritorial scope of the 1992 law. Carrying out or assisting
an act of international terrorism that injures or kills Americans abroad should
provide sufficient justification to subject defendants to U.S. legal sanctions.
Moreover, no one benefiting from a U.S. program, such as foreign assistance, or
maintaining a presence in the United States should be able to simultaneously
dodge responsibility in U.S. courts for involvement in terrorist attacks that
harm Americans. The Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act
certain defendants who take advantage of benefits under certain U.S. laws shall
be deemed to have consented to jurisdiction in U.S. courts for any Antiterrorism
of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018
is available HERE