Obama Asks Supreme Court Not To Hear Insurance Claims Case

President Obama

WASHINGTON—The Obama Administration urged the Supreme Court not to hear the appeal of the Ninth Circuit’s 2012 decision striking down a California law extending the statute of limitations on Armenian Genocide-era life insurance claims, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

“President Obama, rather than filing a brief based on the merits of this case, chose instead – on the eve of Prime Minister Erdogan’s visit to Washington, DC – to send Ankara a political gift by both deepening his Administration’s complicity in the denial of the Armenian Genocide and also obstructing justice for American citizens seeking redress through the U.S. courts,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.  “We will, despite the President’s retreat from principle, persevere in pursuit of the justice owed the Armenian nation.”

In a 27-page brief submitted to the Supreme Court earlier today, the U.S. Solicitor General argues that the California law improperly allows courts “to issue judgments based on politically contentious events that occurred in the Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago, with no substantial basis to claim that it is regulating in an area of its traditional authority.”

It also makes reference to selective Executive branch opposition to Armenian Genocide legislation, but not the U.S. record of recognition of the Armenian Genocide as a crime of genocide, including:
1. the U.S. Government’s May 28, 1951 written statement to the International Court of Justice regarding the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, in which the “Turkish massacres of Armenians” is cited among other “outstanding examples of the crime of  genocide”
2. President Ronald Reagan’s April 22, 1981 Proclamation number 4838; in which he stated, in part, “like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians, which followed it – and like too many other persecutions of too many other people – the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten.”

Read the U.S. Government’s brief.

The Supreme Court, which had requested the Administration’s brief in October of 2012, will consider the Solicitor General’s position, along with several “friend of the court” briefs defending the California Armenian Genocide-era life insurance law, including one filed by California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin.

The case has traveled a long and complex legal path, which has included three separate and conflicting opinions from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the most recent on February 23, 2012. That decision struck down the California law extending the statute of limitations for certain life insurance claims based on an unprecedented expansion of the rarely invoked doctrine of foreign affairs field preemption. In its ruling, the Ninth Circuit invalidated the California law, which was unanimously passed by the legislature, because of Turkish government threats aimed at silencing discussion of the Armenian Genocide in the United States.

Plaintiffs’ petition to the Supreme Court to hear the case was filed by Igor Timofeyev of Paul Hastings, LLP.  Claims for unpaid life insurance policies dating back to the Armenian Genocide were first brought by plaintiffs’ attorney Vartkes Yeghiayan.  Attorneys who have been representing plaintiffs include Lee Crawford Boyd, Rajika Shah, Mark Geragos, and Brian Kabateck.

A series of amicus briefs were filed in support of the plaintiffs’ petition including a filing by U.S. Federal and State legislators, filed by attorneys Mary-Christine Sungaila and Seepan Parseghian at the firm of Snell and Willmer, LLP.

Human rights and public policy groups including  the Armenian Bar Association, Armenian National Committee of America, Zoryan Institute for Contemporary Armenian Research and Documentation, Inc., Genocide Education Project, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, Center for the Study of Law & Genocide, and the International Human Rights Clinic of the University of Southern California Gould School of Law also filed an amicus brief and were represented by Bingham McCutchen, LLP, led by partner David Balabanian.

Read the complete set of filings.


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  1. danoog said:

    Such a man of character and principles. He’s your president, all you Armenian-Americans who voted for him. Shame, shame, shame, Barack Erdogan Obama.

  2. An Armenian said:

    Barack Hussein Obama is the only US president who has set-back and caused so much damage to the Armenian cause in the United States. He and the State department under his administration are setting precedence in their negative and antagonistic stance against Armenian Americans and issues of concern to them. Let them bow in front of the Turks and the Turkish government. The time will come that they will regret their decisions.

  3. Krikor said:

    Another slap on our face. And this is the president for whom we, Armenians, voted with our heart.
    But this is not a surprise since the America foreign policy is dictated by Ankara

  4. phillip said:

    Should we be surprised by this? Should be surprised next election when the candidate promises you
    he or she will?

  5. Georgek said:

    I wish we had one president who would stand for what is right rather than what benefits his policies.

    Mr. President we are resilient people and we will win. May be not this time but we will win.

    Let’s keep our unity and make Armenia a strong country. Only a strong Armenia can stand to any foreign politics.

  6. Armine Zohrabian said:

    Since when presidents tell the US Supreme Court what to do?

  7. Anton A said:

    This guy, for I do no know who he is anymore, but some of you call him a laureate, or president, or whatnot, is in fact the latter. Nothing but an amnesic hypocrite who speaks with a split tongue.

    But, it is the Armenians’ fault to believe this — for a lack of better word — dastard.

  8. An Armenian said:

    That’s what I call a US president and US State department with Christian values.

  9. Hrant K. said:

    It is now so crystal clear how President Obama has used The Armenian Genocide as a bargaining chip in
    his first election campaign, and now a negotiation leverage tool with the Neo-Nazi-Ottoman “erdogan”! It
    is interesting and noteworthy to say, that the same turks have been training and arming the Chechens,
    Talibans and the Qaeda jihadists, that so love to kill Americans with cold blood! When are we Americans ever
    going to learn from our past mistakes? Untill another Boston Marathon Massacre, another Afghan 10 year war or
    another Sept. 11 event(s) take(s) place? lnviting the bear to our backyard is the worst case scenario ever!!!
    Hopefully we’ll wake up before any other such tragic events take place!!!

  10. Arziv said:

    Waiting, expecting anyhting favorable from the USA administration in respect to these latent issues it is like hoping for a miracle.


    Are you surprised? what do you expect from a HYPOCRITE.

  12. Padova said:

    I’m very disappointed that Obama Administration has urged the Supreme Court not to hear the appeal of the Ninth Circuit’s 2012 decision striking down a California law extending the statute of limitations on Armenian Genocide- I’ve thought Obama was a fair president and cared about the victims of the Armenian Genocide.

  13. Grigor said:

    I am disgusted the way Mr. Obama is handling the American institution and human rights issues. He is a black person and he should understand the reason of Armenian struggle. He pretended all these years and hided his real face to gain vote.
    Mr. Obama, now we know who you are and how you are turning your face back to human’s right and suffered Armenians. You are doing these just to make a murderer government of Turkey happy. We are ashamed to have such a president and even worse, we are ashamed of ourselves that we voted for you.

  14. George Mardig said:

    Armenians should not panick, they have survived centuries they will be around long after Mr. Obama is gone, all they need is patience, the use of their strong worldwide over 10 million diaspora Armenian’s word of mouth propaganda, and spread the ugly side of hidden informations that everybody has, they should remember image is everything, and word of mouth can make the difference.

  15. Dr.Hermon Mihranian said:

    It looks like the US Administration has no intention to recognize the Armenian Genocide as a crime of Genocide. The Obama Administration does in no way intends to confront with the turcks. I humbely advice the Obama Adminstration to reconsider the matter and oficialy recognize the Armenian Genocide. Armenians living in the US and abraod deserve it.

  16. Garo Yeghichian said:

    Mr. Obama. what you ask to the Juges of the supreme court, not to hear the Armenians (Genocide)
    insurance claim cases is disqusting and shamful for the President of America.
    Apparently the Turks find the way again (like other government personalities) to satisfy the requirements.

  17. Hratch said:

    We can get mad at Obama all we want, but the fact remains that the US will not, and can not, go against its interests. The situation in the ME is hotter than ever and it requires the cooperation of Turkey more than ever.

    Forget bashing Obama, it’s useless. Before you know it, his term will expire and he won’t be around to blame anymore. We’ll have a new person to blame because the next president will have to follow the same policy. Nothing will change dramatically on the ground within our lifetime.

    If anything, we need to put our collective efforts to maintaining what we have today. Otherwise, future generations might not even have today’s Armenia.

  18. Josef said:

    Obama is nothing but a stooge for special interst groups and Turkey is one of them why are people mad at him? He lied to us about the Genocide so this is no suprise!
    Good part is in 3 years we don’t have to deal with him !!!

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