Rep. Rice Leads Bipartisan Coalition Urging Trump Administration to Seek Justice for American Victims of Terrorism in Israel
67 House Democrats and Republicans ask Solicitor General to support plaintiffs in Sokolow v. PLO, et al. as they sue perpetrators of attacks that killed and maimed hundreds of civilians in the early 2000s; Lead plaintiff Mark Sokolow and family are residents of Cedarhurst in NY-04
WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice today led 67 House Democrats and Republicans in calling on the U.S. Solicitor General to respond to the Supreme Court’s request for a brief expressing the Trump administration’s views in Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), et al., a case involving American victims of terrorism abroad who sought civil redress from the PLO and Palestinian Authority (PA) under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1992 (ATA), which gave American victims of terrorism the right to sue perpetrators for attacks that occur anywhere in the world. The lead plaintiff in the case, Mark Sokolow, is a resident of Cedarhurst in Rep. Rice’s district who was injured, along with his wife and daughters, in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem in January 2002. The Sokolows and their fellow plaintiffs joined together in 2004 to sue the PLO and PA for their role in the January 2002 attacks and several other bombings and shootings in Israel in the early 2000s that killed and maimed hundreds of civilians. Many of the PLO and PA “security officers” involved in planning and executing these attacks have been tried, convicted and sentenced to multiple life sentences, but continue to draw generous PLO and PA salaries while in prison.
In 2015, a unanimous jury in the Southern District of New York found the PLO and PA liable for the attacks and awarded compensation to the plaintiffs. In August 2016, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan overturned the ruling and dismissed the suit on the grounds that U.S. federal courts lack jurisdiction over terrorist attacks abroad. The plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court to review and overturn the Appeals Court’s verdict, and several amicus briefs have been filed in support of the terror victims, including a brief filed by the U.S. House of Representatives and a brief filed by a bipartisan group of 23 U.S. Senators. The Supreme Court has requested the Trump administration’s views on the case, but the Solicitor General has yet to respond to that request. In a letter sent today, Rep. Rice led 34 Republicans and 32 Democrats in urging the Solicitor General to expeditiously respond to the request so that the Court can move forward and review the case.
The letter was co-led by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), who also represents a plaintiff in the case.
In their letter to Solicitor General Noel Francisco, the Representatives wrote: “As Members of Congress, we have a compelling interest to speak out in defense of the ATA, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, and in support of these American victims waiting for justice. We also seek to prevent future victims. For this reason an amicus brief supporting the grant of certiorari has already been filed by the House of Representatives. The Court should grant certiorari to review the Court of Appeals’ deeply flawed and troubling decision, which concerns issues of exceptional importance to the Nation.
“We ask you now to expedite the requested response of the Solicitor General and request the full and fair consideration of the views herein.”
In addition to Reps. Rice and Smith, the letter was co-led by nine other House members who represent plaintiffs in the case: Reps. Ted Budd (R-NC), William Keating (D-MA), Joe Kennedy (D-MA), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Scott Perry (R-PA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Frederica Wilson (D-FL).
The full text of the letter is available here.