Since the attacks, a small group of lawyers representing the victims of the 9/11 attacks (a group of which I was a part from 2005-11) has been seeking to hold accountable the nation's so-called "charities," financial institutions and individuals which knowingly financed and provided logistical support to Al-Qaeda in the years before the attacks. It's a hell of a story, which I can spend days discussing.
But let's jump forward. As part of the litigation, which began in 2003, last December the Second Circuit reinstated claims against the Kingdom itself, which had previously been found immune from suit. The Kingdom sought relief from this order from the Supreme Court, and yesterday, it was denied:
"From our perspective, we are looking forward to having the opportunity to finally conduct an inquiry into the financing of the Sept. 11 attacks," said Sean Carter, a partner at the Center City law firm Cozen O'Connor, one of the firms involved in the litigation against the kingdom.Unfortunately, as part of its orders list yesterday, the Court simultaneously declined to hear the appeal of the 9/11 victims of dismissals of claims against some financial institutions and individuals, which had been dismissed from the case on jurisdictional and other grounds (relating to the availability of aiding-and-abetting liability for material support for terrorism). While agreeing that the lower court had gotten it wrong, the USDOJ nonetheless urged the Court not to hear the case.
Saudi Arabia has long denied responsibility for the attacks and pointed to a finding by the 9/11 Commission that it had found no evidence that the Saudi government "as an institution" had involvement.
But the issue has refused to go away...
Carter said he expected that discovery of Saudi government documents and depositions would begin shortly.
[Justices Kagan and Sotomayor recused themselves from the first order; Justice Kagan from the second. I know that Kagan recused because she was involved back in 2009, as solicitor general, the first time these claims reached the Court. I am unsure of Justice Sotomayor's reasons.]
In addition to the Kingdom itself, claims remain against a variety of so-called charities which plaintiffs allege were used to funnel money to Al-Qaeda in the decade before the Attacks, as well as certain individuals. The bipartisan Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) provides additional opportunities for relief. I'll keep you posted.