Congress Overrides The JASTA Veto

By lopsided votes, Congress overrode the President’s veto of JASTA, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. The vote in the Senate was 97 to 1, and in the House of Representatives the vote was 348 to 77. What’s done is done, but it just seems very odd to me for the country with the greatest presence in other countries around the world to be knocking holes in the doctrine of sovereign immunity.

The Senate in particular has not acquitted itself particularly well here. Almost immediately after the vote, senators began expressing second thoughts. Some of them blamed the President for the bill they had just passed! Here is the majority leader, Sen. McConnell:

I find this difficult to understand. The President issued a veto message that explained the bad consequences of the bill. Some prominent commentators weighed in against the bill. So I don’t know how Congress can suggest that its passage of the bill over the President’s veto was somehow the President’s fault. It seems to me that no one wanted to pay the political price of voting against 9/11 victims even though some at least recognized the problems with the bill, and now they want to cast blame elsewhere. Not exactly a profile in courage moment.

About Ted Folkman

Ted Folkman is a shareholder with Murphy & King, a Boston law firm, where he has a complex business litigation practice. Folkman also serves as an arbitrator and is a member of the Commercial and Consumer Panels of the American Arbitration Association. He is the author of International Judicial Assistance (MCLE 2d ed. 2016), a nuts-and-bolts guide to international judicial assistance issues, and of the chapter on service of process in the ABA's treatise on International Aspects of US Litigation (J. Berger, ed. 2017), and he is the publisher of Letters Blogatory, the Web's first blog devoted to international judicial assistance, which the ABA recognized as one of the best 100 legal blogs in 2012 and 2014 - 2016.

5 thoughts on “Congress Overrides The JASTA Veto

  1. Easy explanation… McConnell’s (and Cornyn’s) base has raised the disregard of fact and the disconnect from rational reality to new art forms.

    A few short years ago, that sort of statement would have just been snark, only marginally suitable for posting on Rachel Maddow’s Facebook page. Today, it’s actually political analysis. The GOP leadership has jumped the shark on this one.

      1. That’s certainly true, but Harry Reid isn’t blaming the President for not properly educating Congress on the perils of the bill. He said clearly why he vetoed it, and the defense and intel communities howled about it.

        The GOP leadership apparently had no goal in mind but to make Obama look bad. It’s essentially this…

        Aaron: Hey, Ted, don’t touch that hot stove.

        Ted: Watch me.

        Aaron: It’ll burn you.

        Ted: I’m going to do it anyway. (Touches stove.) OUCH! Why didn’t you tell me how much touching the stove would hurt?

        Aaron: I did tell you. But you didn’t belive me.

        Ted: Still your fault.

  2. This is the stupidest vote by Congress I have ever seen. The potential negative fallout in so many different ways is just mind boggling. Such politically motivated stupidity by Republicans is expected. But Democrats? Charles Schummer clearly is merely a pandering opportunist, wholly unqualified to be Democrat (Majority or Minority) Leader. Sadly (and unfortunately) Senator Elizabeth Warren voted for the override. Senator Harry Reid deserves solid credit for his Nay vote, and, notably, Senators Bernie Sanders and Tim Kaine did not vote, earning them Honorable Mentions.

    1. I don’t know about the stupidest, but it was a bad decision. I think the politics were tough for both parties, because the bill’s most immediate beneficiaries were 9/11 victims. But that’s no excuse to avoid making a tough decision when the national interest demands it.

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