Global Justice Center Blog

Amicus Curiae Brief for Appellant - The Republic of Marshall Islands vs. The United States of America in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

This brief of amicus curiae the Global Justice Center (GJC) is submitted pursuant to Rule 29(a) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure and Ninth Circuit Rule 29-2 with the consent of all parties to the case. GJC is a non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting the enforcement of international law in a progressive, non-discriminatory manner. Thus, GJC has a direct and vital interest in the issues before this Court, which will impact the ability of future litigants to vindicate their rights under international treaties. No part of this brief was authored by a party or party’s counsel, nor did any party, party’s counsel, or other person outside of GJC contribute money intended to fund the preparation of this brief. 

The District Court dismissed Plaintiff’s case below both because it found that Plaintiff lacked standing to bring its claims, and because it found the issues in this case to be non-justiciable political questions. Order Granting Mot. to Dismiss at 5-7. This amicus brief will address the latter of these issues, arguing that the District Court erred in applying the political question doctrine to Plaintiff’s claims. 

In Baker v. Carr, the Supreme Court outlined six factors any of which may justify abstention from a case as a political question. 369 U.S. 186, 217 (1962). The District Court found two of these factors to be implicated by the case at bar: textual commitment to one of the political branches, and a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards. Order Granting Mot. to Dismiss at 5-7. This brief will argue that the meaning of Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and the question of whether or not the United States (U.S.) is in compliance with it are not political questions, and in particular, that the District Court was wrong to hold that no judicially manageable standards are available to guide its analysis of these questions. This brief will identify a rich array of judicial and non-judicial sources that could inform the court’s development of new standards. This brief will also contest the outdated and overbroad statement of Executive authority over foreign affairs that led the District Court to find that resolution of this issue was textually committed to the Executive. 

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