December 10, 2010
For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
tel: (202) 775-1918 / (703) 585-8254 cell

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) today welcomed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s 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.”

Click here to read the Ninth Circuit Court decision.

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