(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Monday, April 21, 2003

The first case to be argued Wednesday, American Insurance Ass'n v. Garamendi, could be interesting. It's about a California law that requires all insurance companies doing business in that State to submit records of all policies issued by itself or its affiliates that were in effect in Europe between 1920 and 1945. The purpose is to help the survivors of Holocaust victims recover any insurance proceeds to which they may be entitled. The question is (a) whether this state statute is invalid under the Constitution because it interferes with the federal government's authority over international relations; and (b) whether the state statute is invalid under the Due Process Clause or the Commerce Clause, on the grounds that it seeks to legislate about matters outside the State's own borders. The Ninth Circuit upheld (pdf) the law. The insurance industry, supported by the federal government (amicus brief), wants the Supreme Court to reverse. I have no particular insights into how the Court will approach this, other than to say (a) they'll again take the views of the Solicitor General quite seriously on the international-relations angle, and (b) as exemplified by the recent punitive damages case (State Farm v. Campbell), the Court is currently in love with the rule that a state can't legislate outside its own borders, so on one basis or another I predict that the Court will REVERSE. A legally dry case about a very serious and important subject.

posted by sam 12:31 PM 0 comments


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