As reported a few days ago on Cartas Blogatorias (and elsewhere, of course), Judge Griesa has held Argentina in contempt of court for attempting to make payments to its bondholders in defiance of his prior orders. This raises interesting questions of US law and of public international law.

The public international law question is one I hesitate to comment on. Readers might be interested in Argentina’s letter to Secretary Kerry and in Julian Ku’s two posts on the question.

On the US law question, the answer seems somewhat clearer. Here is Ku on this question:

The most recent authority for this proposition is the quite recent 2011 opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, F.G. Hemisphere Associates v. Congo. In that case, the D.C. Circuit rejected the argument by Congo (and the U.S. Government) that contempt sanctions due to Congo’s refusal to comply with discovery orders would violate the FSIA. Following the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Autotech Techs. v. Integral Research & Dev., 499 F.3d 737, 744 (7th Cir.2007), the Court held that nothing in the text or the legislative history of the FSIA suggested that there was any limitation on the inherent judicial power to issue contempt sanctions. It also rejected contrary precedent from the U.S. Court of Appeals from the Fifth Circuit in Af-Cap, Inc. v. Republic of Congo, 462 F.3d 417 (5th Cir. 2006).