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Law Professors' Lawsuit On ICC Free Speech Becomes Moot As US Removes Sanctions

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Podcast
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - CJR - PFT

UN GATE / SDNY COURT, April 2 – A group of law professors, represented by a Washington lobbyist firm, sued last Fall on the theory that their First Amendment rights to support the UN-affiliated International Criminal Court have been impaired. 

On October 9, the plaintiffs wrote of their motion for a preliminary injunction: "Re: Open Society Justice Initiative, et al. v. Trump, et al. Case No. 1:20-cv-8121-KPF – Request for Oral Argument Dear Judge Polk Failla: We represent Plaintiffs in the above-referenced action. We write in compliance with Your Honor’s Individual Rules of Practice 4(E) to request that the Court schedule oral argument on Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Plaintiffs’ Motion seeks to protect their rights under the First and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and to prevent the government from acting ultra vires under the governing statute. Plaintiffs respectfully suggest that oral argument would assist the Court in making its decision by elucidating the key points of difference between the parties on these issues."

 On January 4, Judge Failla partially granted the preliminary injunction, citing the First Amendment, podcast here, full order on Patreon here: "given Plaintiffs’ likelihood of success on some of their First Amendment claims, courts “presume[]” irreparable harm when a plaintiff “alleges injury from a rule or regulation that directly limits speech.” Bronx Household of Faith v. Bd. of Educ., 331 F.3d 342, 349-50 (2d Cir. 2003). See also N.Y. Progress & Prot. PAC, 733 F.3d at 486 (“The loss of First Amendment freedoms, even for minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.”

 Now on April 2 the case seems mooted, by the new Administration removing ICC sanctions, here. Not a day too soon - the US' answers were due on April 5. And now?

But the parties should be aware: the UN is no friend of free speech.   

 Under current Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the UN roughed up and has banned Inner City Press 823 days now, for its questions about Guterres' failures on Cameroon (a France-supported mass killing event not taken up by the ICC) and his undisclosed links to convicted UN bribers at CEFC China Energy. Video here, background here. 

 Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric - a US as well as French citizen - helped organize the rough up then initially promised on camera to at least answer Inner City Press' request questions, here. He has since stopped, and said "Mr. Lee's status remains unchanged."

 With that unacted on, and Guterres' head of media accreditation Melissa Fleming - a US citizen - denying Inner City Press' application for re-accreditation last months without even giving a reason, the ICC / Trump complaint says:

“The executive order and the regulations impermissibly restrict plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech by prohibiting them from providing the speech-based services and assistance described above, including with respect to ICC investigations and prosecutions that the United States supports. The executive order and the regulations also lack the clarity required by the Fifth Amendment as to which acts subject a person to enforcement or designation, or which persons they cover.”   Yeah.  

The plaintiffs' lawyers are Shrutih Ramlochan-Tewarie and Nicholas Marcus Renzler of Foley Hoag LLP. The plaintiffs are The Open Society Justice Initiative, Diane Marie Amann, Milena Sterio, Margaret deGuzman and Gabor Rona.    Are these professors, and Foley Hoag, really for free speech with regards to the UN and ICC? So far, it seems not.

Their case is Open Society Justice Initiative et al v. Trump et al, 1:20-cv-08121 (Failla)


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