CSLG Files Supreme Court Amicus Briefs with Help from Genocide Justice Clinic Students
The Center for the Study of Law and Genocide has been involved with the research, drafting and submission of multiple amicus briefs to the Supreme Court of the United States supporting the plaintiffs of genocide restitution cases.
On November 22, 2021, CSLG submitted a brief supporting the plaintiffs in a case arising from the Nazis' looting of art from Jews during the Holocaust. Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation was originally filed in 2005 in the Los Angeles federal district court by heirs of Holocaust survivor Lily Cassirer against a Spanish-owned museum.
Now, the court will decide which choice of law rules determine which substantive law governs the claims: California law or Spanish law. Because California law prevents the holder of stolen property from acquiring good title, the court's resolution of this question has the potential to affect the outcome in not only this case, but Holocaust restitution and other cases involving the sale of looted art or cultural property incident to genocide or mass atrocities more broadly.
In these cases, the Court will determine whether Germany and Hungary can be haled into United States courts to answer claims for compensation by the heirs of Hungarian Holocaust victims and Jewish art dealers. The CSLG's brief, filed with fellow amici The 1939 Society, Prof. Michael Bazyler, Bet Tzedek, and The Holocaust Education Center in the Desert, highlights the disturbing historical and legal revisionism in Germany and Hungary's positions.
This work is consistent with the Center's longstanding tradition of Holocaust-related scholarship, including Founding Director and Professor of Law Stanley Goldman’s book, Left to the Mercy of a Rude Stream: The Bargain That Broke Adolf Hitler and Saved My Mother (2018). LGJC Clinical Director and CSLG Deputy Director Rajika Shah has written about both Simon and Philipp on several occasions (including her chapter in the forthcoming Oxford University Press publication, Postgenocide: Interdisciplinary Reflections on the Effects of Genocide), and quickly assembled the amicus team after the Court granted certiorari.
The two cases are No. 18-1447 (Simon) and 19-351 (Philipp).
CSLG and Jewish World Watch hosted a discussion of these cases on November 17. On December 7, the day of the Supreme Court oral arguments, CSLG also hosted a listening session to discuss and comment on the court’s proceedings that day.
Several current and former students from the Loyola Genocide Justice Clinic contributed valuable research, scouring the full breadth of domestic, international, and foreign law sources to help draft these amicus briefs.
Learn more about the CSLG.