Monday, December 3, 2007

Cert. Grant: Republic of the Philippines v. Pimentel

The Supreme Court today granted the petition for a writ of certiorari in Republic of the Philippines v. Pimentel (No. 06-1204). The Ninth Circuit opinion is here; the petition for certiorari is here; the brief in opposition is here; the petitioners' reply brief is here; the brief of the United States as amicus in support of the petitioners is here. The question presented by the petition is: "Whether a foreign government that is a 'necessary' party to a lawsuit under Rule 19(a) and and has successfully asserted sovereign immunity is, under Rule 19(b), an 'indisputable' party to an action brought in the courts of the United States to settle ownership of assets claimed by that government." In granting the petition, the Court directed the parties to brief and argue, in addition, the following question: "Whether the Republic of the Philippines (Republic) and its Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), having been dismissed from the interpleader action based on their successful assertion of sovereign immunity, had the right to appeal the district court’s determination that they were not indispensable parties under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19(b); and whether the Republic and its PCGG have the right to seek this Court’s review of the court of appeals’s opinion affirming the district court." In addition to contesting the lower court's interpretation of Rule 19(b), the U.S. brief, which was signed by the State Department Legal Adviser (as well as the usual suspects), made the following point: "The decision [of the Ninth Circuit] also raises significant concerns with respect to the Nation’s foreign relations. It prejudices ongoing litigation in the Philippines regarding a matter of great public concern to that country, conflicts with an understanding between the Philippines and Switzerland regarding adjudication of the Marcos assets, and threatens to undermine the ability of the United States to enforce its forfeiture judgments abroad as well as to assert sovereign immunity in foreign courts in similar circumstances."