Barr files amicus brief for financial regulation scholars in Supreme Court case

July 5, 2017

Michael Barr joined noted DC appellate attorney Deepak Gupta as co-counsel on a June 27 amicus brief, submitted by financial regulation scholars and former government officials who have worked to prevent violent non-state actors from accessing the U.S. financial system, in the Supreme Court case Joseph Jesner et al v. Arab Bank.

Joseph Jesner, the father of a young man killed in a militant attack in Tel Aviv, seeks the right to bring a civil suit against Arab Bank, PLC, which has been accused of financing militant groups. Jesner is joined by thousands of plaintiffs who have been affected by militant attacks and who have, according to The New York Times, accused Arab Bank “of deliberately financing terrorism, including suicide bombings and other attacks.”

In April, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, which will decide whether Jesner and the other plaintiffs have legal grounds to bring this type of a civil suit against corporations under the Alien Tort Statute. In the amicus brief, Barr and his colleagues argue in favor of the plaintiffs, saying that such suits, when brought against financial institutions that have “knowingly and willfully” financed terrorism using U.S. payment systems, “would further U.S. policy goals against terrorist financing.”

“Considering the wide array of enforcement mechanisms, permitting Alien Tort Statute suits against banks for terrorist financing would not disrupt regulation of the financial system or U.S. foreign policy,” they write. “To the contrary, it would reinforce the basic U.S. policy goal of preventing the corruption of our financial system through terrorist access.”

Two Michigan students, Anna Greve and Julie Siegel (both of whom participated in Barr’s "Financial Reform" seminar earlier this year) were key drafters of the brief.

Michael Barr is the Roy F. and Jean Humphrey Profitt Professor of Law and faculty director of the Center on Finance, Law, and Policy. He is incoming dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and will begin his term on August 1, 2017.