Cornyn, Menendez, Van Drew, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Strengthen 9/11 Victims Law
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Congressman Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02) introduced the Ensuring Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, which would close loopholes in the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) to allow families of victims of terrorism to seek financial compensation from foreign sponsors of terrorism:
“The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act was a monumental step forward in providing families who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001 a path to achieve long-overdue closure in a court of law,” said Sen. Cornyn. “By making minor technical edits, this bill makes sure JASTA works the way it was intended to, reaffirms our commitment to holding sponsors of terrorism accountable, and ensures victims’ families can continue to seek justice against those who perpetrated these horrific acts.”
“I’m proud to be working alongside Sen. Cornyn and colleagues on bipartisan legislative clarifications to the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which will help ensure that foreign states, which may have aided and abetted terrorism against U.S. citizens, cannot evade justice based on a technicality,” said Sen. Menendez. “This effort will ensure that U.S. victims of terrorism and their family members are able to seek justice in a court of law as Congress intended. We must stand in solidarity with those Americans who have been affected by acts of terrorism.”
“There are few days in a nation’s history that truly redefine its way of life,” said Rep. Van Drew. “September 11th, 2001, was one of those days for our nation. Despite the gravity and impact of that day, the families of those who tragically lost their lives have been unable to hold the perpetrators who took their loved ones from them accountable. This bill will ensure that the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act can truly fulfill its goal of delivering justice for American victims of terror.”
The bill is cosponsored by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mike Lee (R-UT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Rick Scott (R-FL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), and Ed Markey (D-MA).
The Ensuring Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act makes three technical corrections to the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) that would:
- Clarify that injured plaintiffs can sue foreign state defendants for aiding and abetting terrorism and ensure that liability may be asserted as to any person or entity that aids or abets terrorism;
- Ensure that plaintiffs, if they obtain on a JASTA claim, can collect their judgement; and
- Clarify that all U.S. citizens injured in their person, business, or property may recover under JASTA.
JASTA was introduced by Sens. Cornyn and Schumer in 2015 and passed both the Senate and House with broad bipartisan support. The bill was enacted into law by Congress in 2016 following an override of President Obama’s veto—the only override of his administration. This bill amends the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act so that foreign sponsors of terrorism cannot invoke “sovereign immunity” in cases arising from a terrorist attack that kills an American on American soil. JASTA also amends the Anti-Terrorism Act so that civil suits against foreign sponsors of terrorism can be held accountable in U.S. courts where their conducts contributes to an attack that kills an American.