Justice Against State Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA)
The Justice Against State Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) is a law passed unanimously by Congress. President Barack Obama vetoed the law, but for the first time in his eight years as our president, Congress overrode the veto, and it became law.
JASTA is a minor change (really a clarification) to federal law concerning the immunity of foreign countries. Under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, foreign countries are not immune from liability for torts that they commit in the United States. In the 9/11 case, however, the court found that the entire wrongful act or tort must take place in the United States for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be held liable and disregarded alleged wrongful acts that occurred outside the country. The court dismissed the claims against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia based in large part on its narrow interpretation of the law.
JASTA will require the court to consider all of the plaintiffs’ allegations concerning the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s acts, both inside and outside the U.S. JASTA also amends the federal Anti-Terrorism Act, permitting suits directly against foreign countries that commit acts of terror in the United States. The amendments permit suits to be reinstated or filed for the first time against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.