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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Solicitor General’s Views Sought in 9/11 Case

(CN) - The Supreme Court on Monday invited the government to weigh in on the claims of thousands of Sept. 11 victims seeking to sue individuals and entities in the Middle East that they say provided material support for the terrorist attacks.

As is their custom, the justices offered no explanation for extending the invitation to U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. They merely suggest they want to give the administration's top lawyer an opportunity for "expressing the views of the United States."

The plaintiffs in O'Neill v. Al Rajhi Bank are trying to revive their consolidated lawsuits against Saudi Arabia's stated-owned national commercial bank, various relatives of Osama bin Laden, and the Saudi Bin Laden Group, which is controlled by the former al-Qaeda leader's family.

The plaintiffs include those who suffered direct injuries during the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., family members of victims, and corporations that sustained economic losses as a result of the attacks.

In April 2013, the 2nd Circuit threw out the claims, holding that the federal Anti-Terrorism Act doesn't authorize suits for helping others commit atrocities. The three-judge panel also said some defendants lacked enough of a connection to the U.S. to be sued in American courts.

The 2nd Circuit later denied petition for a rehearing en banc.

In their petition to the high court in October, the plaintiffs argued the 2nd Circuit erred in both of its findings, and that those findings not only conflict with an earlier decision in the 7th Circuit, Boim v. Holy Land Foundation, but also Congress' intent when it passed the anti-terrorism law.

Justice Elena Kagan did not take part in the consideration of this petition, the Supreme Court said.

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