LOS ANGELES—In an unprecedented move, California Attorney General Kamala Harris was joined by her counterparts from Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada and Rhode Island, supporting the constitutionality of California’s Armenian Genocide Life Insurance Recovery Act and reaffirming an earlier ruling by a 3-member panel of the same court. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Wednesday.
In 2009, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that a law adopted by the California Legislature in 2000 — extending to December 31, 2010 the statute of limitations on insurance claims — was unconstitutional, because it included a reference to the Armenian Genocide. In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled that the State of California had infringed on the foreign affairs power reserved by the U.S. Constitution to the federal government. Two of the three federal judges asserted that the state had contravened the federal government’s policy of not acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. In 2010, one of the three judges reversed his position, and the law returned to force. Now, the 9th Circuit is scheduled to rehear the case “en banc,” meaning the entire court.
The matter revolves around the federal government’s “foreign affairs doctrine” which gives it the right to set policy in this field.
In the brief imploring the court to uphold the law, the attorneys general argue that “…no treaty, congressional resolution or executive agreement establishes a federal foreign policy that conflicts with or displaces, Section 354.4.”
“The Federal government’s inaction in the face of numerous uses of the term ‘Armenian Genocide’ by California and other states belies any significant federal interest in preventing states from using the term. Some 40 other states have statutes and or proclamations that use that term and ‘ the federal government’ has never expressed any opposition to any such recognition,” added the attorneys general.
The original legislation was spearheaded by then State Senator Adam Schiff. California Attorney General Kamala Harris has championed this issue and rallied the other attorneys general.
Follow Asbarez for developments on Wednesday’s hearing.