Ever since the previously redacted documents involving the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 were released, there has been a renewed push to allow the families of the victims of the terror attacks to sue the officials and government of Saudi Arabia.
It is widely believed that the government played a crucial role in regards to the terror attacks. Although the specifics are not clear, it has been alleged that the government potentially played a role in funding and/or training the attackers.
As a response, legislation entitled “Justice for State Sponsors of Terrorism Act” (JASTA) was enacted in the hopes of allowing the potential perpetrators to be held liable in the court of law. In an up and down vote, the legislation passed the House in a nearly unanimous fashion. Despite this, President Obama vetoed the legislation as he promised.
Now, a veto override was voted upon by the House and the Senate. In the Senate, it passed 97-1, with only one vote against it from retiring Nevada Senator Harry Reid. Similarly in the House, the measure passed 348-77.
With these results, New Jersey Senator Chuck Schumer said in response to the bill, “Overriding a presidential veto is something we don’t take lightly, but it was important in this case that the families of the victims of 9/11 be allowed to pursue justice, even if that pursuit causes some diplomatic discomforts.”
This comes in clear contradiction to the will of the Obama Administration. In response to the action, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest called it, “single most embarrassing thing the Senate has done since 1983.”
Although many are unsure about the precedent for this, Americans have in fact sued foreign governments in the past.