Tag Archives: law

SCOTUS should grant cert in Castro. Judicial review of Trump’s immigration detention regime depends on it



60 miles outside Philadelphia, on a bucolic country road in Berks County, PA, sits a brick building with a fenced-in yard fronting a line of trees. To look at it, you would never guess this place is the epicenter of the coming battles over judicial review of immigration detention in the United States.

Today the Supreme Court is conferencing to decide whether to grant a writ of certiorari in the case of Castro v. Department of Homeland Security.

Of the two dozen families who are the plaintiffs in Castro, about half have been released. But 14 families remain at Berks. They fled gender-based violence and threats to their lives in their home countries and sought asylum in the United States. After deeply flawed credible fear interviews and rubber-stamp affirmations by an immigration judge, they have languished in legal limbo for the past year and a half.

The Third Circuit decided that these families…

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Publish and perish: The Story of Myrna Mack

“The Perils of Publishing (April 24)”

by Eduardo Galeano

In the year 2004, for once the government of Guatemala broke with the tradition of impunity and officially acknowledged that Myrna Mack was killed by order of the country’s president.

Myrna had undertaken forbidden research. Despite receiving threats, she had gone deep into the jungles and mountains to find exiles wandering in their own country, the indigenous survivors of the military’s massacres. She collected their voices.

In 1989, at a conference of social scientists, an anthropologist from the United States complained about the pressure universities exert to continually produce: “In my country if you don’t publish, you perish.”

And Myrna replied: “In my country if you publish, you perish.”

She published.

She was stabbed to death.

From Eduardo Galeano’s new book Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History, excerpted at Toward Freedom.

I’m ashamed to admit I had never heard of Myrna Mack. In reading up on her story I learned she was stabbed, 27 times, outside her downtown Guatemala City office on Sept. 11, 1990. At the time of her death, she had been researching and publishing information about the plight of internally displaced persons in Guatemala. In 1993, a low-level sergeant was convicted of the murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison for the crime.

In February 2003 the Inter-American Court on Human Rights heard oral arguments in the case brought by the Mack family against the Guatemalan government for allegedly failing to ensure timely justice in the Mack case. On December 19, 2003, the Court unanimously found Guatemala in violation of Articles 1 (obligation to respect rights), 4 (right to life), 5 (humane treatment), 8 (judicial guarantees) and 25 (judicial protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights.

In April 2004, President Oscar Berger joined the heads of Congress and the Supreme Court on Thursday in publicly acknowledging government responsibility for the 1990 killing of human rights activist Myrna Mack.

“In the name of the state, I ask for the forgiveness of the Mack family and of the people of Guatemala for the murder of this young anthropologist,” Berger said.

Daimler and the ‘Dirty War’: Supreme Court to hear another human rights case

On the heels of Kiobel (of which more soon, I promise!), SCOTUS has agreed to hear  another dispute over lawsuits in American courts against foreign companies for human rights abuses.

DaimlerChrysler AG v. Bauman concerns whether a corporation can be sued based only on the fact that it has a subsidiary in the place where the case was filed. The lawsuit, filed by former employees of an auto plant operated by Mercedes-Benz Argentina, claims that workers identified by state security forces stationed at the plant as “subversives” were arrested and detained, and some of them disappeared, during Argentina’s “Dirty War.” 

According to GlobalPost, the plaintiffs have alleged that the company “collaborated with the Argentine government to kidnap, detain, torture, or kill (respondents) or their relatives during Argentina’s military regime of 1976 to 1983, known as the ‘Dirty War.'”

Meanwhile, Daimler, in its appeal before the Supreme Court, called the lower court’s ruling a “breathtaking expansion of general personal jurisdiction that is impossible to reconcile with the decisions of this court or other circuits” and said it will result in a “proliferation of suits in American courts by foreign plaintiffs suing foreign defendants based on foreign conduct.”

From SCOTUSblog:

One reason why the Justices accepted the DaimlerChrysler case could have been to say something further on what kind of a U.S. connection is sufficient to support an [Alien Tort Statute] claim in a U.S. federal court. But another reason could be that the Justices saw in this case a wider issue, on the reach of a court in one jurisdiction to allow litigation against a corporation that is mostly located elsewhere, but has some activity where it was sued.

The Court in recent years has been attempting to sort out, for example, how far a state court can allow its courts to reach an out-of-state company. The decision that emerges in the DaimlerChrysler case thus could affect not only a federal court’s reach beyond the U.S., but also the power of state courts to reach beyond their borders.

(h/t Opinio Juris)