Republicans and Democrats in Washington have just worked together to pass, by veto-proof margins, through both houses of Congress, a bill that would crack open the door to international accountability through the courts.
A top elected official in France called it “a legal revolution in international law with major political consequences.”
The driving purpose of the bill is to allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia, a path currently blocked by conventional laws of international sovereignty.
The White House fears that if this bill becomes law “it could expose the United States to lawsuits by people in other countries.”
In other words, this is potentially a very real step toward international accountability for crimes, no matter who commits them.
Of course, the GOP’s desire to make the Obama administration uncomfortable is a major political factor here. Yet the result is remarkable, and potentially groundbreaking.
Here’s how Republican Rep. Ted Poe of Texas frames the values in play:
The legislation gives the victims’ families access to the courts, to the rule of law. And we as a people should be more concerned about these victims of terror than we are about diplomatic niceties with other countries. The voices of the murdered cry out for us to do justice, and justice has been waiting too long.
(Via New York Times)
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