U.S. House to Allow Vote on Controversial JASTA Bill This Week

The U.S.  House of Representatives will vote this week on a bill allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts, a Republican leadership source told Politico Wednesday.

The highly-politicized Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) bill, which President Obama said would receive his veto should it make it to his office, comes during a volatile U.S. Presidential election year.

This week, two top-level Bush administration officials blasted the JASTA bill in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

“Although enticingly named, JASTA is far more likely to harm the United States than bring justice against any sponsor of terrorism,” John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., and Michael B. Mukasey, former U.S. Attorney General wrote in the WSJ.

“JASTA would create an exception to sovereign immunity, the legal doctrine protecting foreign countries and their diplomatic personnel from suit in U.S. courts, if a plaintiff claims to have suffered injury in the United States from state-sponsored terrorism…Most significant, JASTA shifts authority for a huge component of national security from the politically accountable branches—the president and Congress—to the judiciary, the branch least competent to deal with international matters of life and death and least politically accountable. If citizens believe that presidents are covering up, Congress can act. But to invite unelected, life-tenured judges to interfere in areas constitutionally assigned to the branches charged with making and declaring war is folly in an age of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.”

JASTA is up for a vote in the U.S. Congress after having passed in the Senate in May of this year, the second time the Senate passed a version of the bill.