Ninth Circuit Court Rules California Law on Armenian Genocide-Era Claims Constitutional

Court Reverses Earlier Decision that had Placed State and Local Genocide Recognition Efforts at Risk

WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) on Friday welcomed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the Movsesian v. Versicherung case reversing an earlier ruling striking down as unconstitutional a California law allowing for the return of Armenian Genocide-era insurance claims. The Court reversed the August, 2009, ruling by a 2-1 margin.

“We applaud the Ninth Circuit court for reaffirming the right of U.S. states to speak truthfully about the Armenian Genocide, and allowing the descendants of Genocide-era victims and survivors to pursue their rightful claims,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We are particularly gratified that the Court found that the California statute was a valid exercise of the state’s power, and that there clearly is not an established federal policy forbidding state references to the Armenian Genocide.”

“On behalf of all Armenian Americans and our friends in the genocide-prevention movement, we want to share our special thanks with those who skillfully led and actively supported this successful appeal,” added Hamparian.

The ANCA, along with the Armenian Bar Association, Zoryan Institute, and the International Association of Genocide Scholars, filed an Amici Curiae brief petitioning the court for a rehearing.

They were ably represented by attorneys David Balabanian, David Salmons, and Erin Conroy from the Bingham McCutchen. Notably, last year, serving in his capacity as California Attorney General, Jerry Brown, now the Governor-Elect of California, submitted an Amicus Curiae brief on behalf of the people of California in support of plaintiffs’ property claims emanating from the Armenian Genocide. Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) as well as EarthRights International and the Center for Constitutional Rights also filed their own separate Amicus Curiae briefs in support of a rehearing.

“ERI congratulates the plaintiffs and applauds this result,” EarthRights International Litigation Coordinator Rick Herz. “The Court correctly recognized that states’ efforts to protect residents who suffered egregious human rights abuses does not inherently interfere with U.S. foreign policy.”

The Ninth Circuit Court Decision can be read here.


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  1. eddy said:

    waw! nice to hear this :-) since Turks are non stop talking of “law” and “court decisions” they should start re-thinking there denial policy before its to late …. I would say Germany will most probably act in order to achieve a limitation of damage

  2. David Boyajian said:

    Judge David Thompson, who voted against the Armenian side both times, clearly has very poor judgment, as demonstrated by the 2-1 reversal. He should be embarrassed but probably is not.

    I would like to see him be impeached and thrown off the Federal bench. A movement to remove him should be started. America’s “loss” would be Turkey’s gain.

    Perhaps he would prefer to work for Turkey’s “judicial” system. I think he would be a lot more comfortable there.

  3. facts said:

    I would say this ruling of Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is a serious and last warning to denailst fascist Turkish government …

  4. ed said:

    Armenian lawyers should remind Judge David Thompson that state government could opposite federal government, even when if a foreign government is involved/effected. One example: Even though US government has with the Germany a bilateral double tax agreement, California doesn’t accept (or follow) parts of these bilateral tax agreement of Federal government in Washington with Germany …

  5. Random Armenian said:

    The section “A. Conflict Preemption” goes into great detail to outline how the 2 judges determined that the “express federal policy” was not clear on the Armenian Genocide. The whole issue rests on not the legal or academic criteria for judging a genocide but rather sate versus current federal foreign policy. This is about whether CA can on it’s own, use the words Armenian Genocide in its laws.

    What the details of that section lays out is that federal policy is to walk a fine line and to partially appease both Armenians and Turks but not explicitly say if it was genocide or not. At least that’s how I read it.

    What I’d like to know from those in the legal know-how, is if the usage of Armenian Genocide in the California law was necessary. Was there a statute of limitations on recovering life insurance? Was the use of Armenian Genocide a way around it?

    To go off on a complete tangent, that 9th circuit court building architecture looks somewhat Ottoman (Dolmabahce palace?).

  6. Stepan said:

    Another example of the enduring tenacity of the Armenian people and the continuing collaspe of the Turkish denial campaign. The day is coming soon when the Turks will begin discussing how to cut their losses and admit to their crime. I think they are beginning to realize between the continuing discovery of the truth by their own citizens and the inspiring voices of the Armenian nation; that this issue will never go away.
    Aliyev and Erdogan should realize that there is continuing diminishing return on their respective positions.

  7. ed said:

    Unfortunately, last speech of Turkish FM in US was as rude as usual. Turkish FM not only was engaged in denial of historic facts but Turkish FM die re-closed the already closed Armenian Turkish frontier … Turks have forgotten that Dolmabahce palace being built on a plot of land stolen form Armenian families… This Turkey is much small than Ottoman Empire but still every Turkish politician and (ultra) nationalist is thinking and behaving like a “Sultan”