Alston & Bird LLP
Charlotte, NC 28280
- Rachel Brand - Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board
On March 21, 2016, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in RJR Nabisco, Inc. v. The European Community. The European Community and 26 of its member states sued RJR Nabisco (RJR) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleging that RJR conducted a global money-laundering enterprise in violation of several laws, including the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a federal statute. The alleged RICO enterprise involved the importation of illegal drugs into European countries by Colombian and Russian criminal organizations, with RJR helping to launder their drug money through a cigarette import-purchase scheme. Applying a presumption against extraterritorial application of federal law, the district court dismissed The European Community’s civil RICO claim. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated that judgment and reinstated the RICO claim, however, concluding that various alleged predicates for RICO liability had been intended by Congress to apply extraterritorially and that other offenses asserted sufficiently important domestic activity to come within RICO’s coverage.
The U.S. Supreme Court granted RJR’s subsequent petition for writ of certiorari on the following question: whether, or to what extent, RICO applies extraterritorially.
To discuss the case, we have Richard A. Samp, who is Chief Counsel at Washington Legal Foundation.
The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces recently granted review in United States v. Sterling, in which it will address, for the first time, the nature and scope of Religious Freedom Restoration Act’s applicability within the military. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling was convicted at a court-martial for refusing to remove a Bible verse she taped to her computer in her workspace. Our expert, along with former U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, serves as co-counsel for Ms. Sterling, and explained Sterling’s potential significance to religious liberty within the military. Our expert also discussed other significant and recent developments in the field of military religious liberty, such as the case of U.S. Navy chaplain Wes Modder, who faced career-ending punishment after offering pastoral counseling in accordance with his denomination’s teaching and tenets.
After much prodding from human rights advocates and congressional committees, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the Obama administration considers ISIS guilty of "genocide." Why did it take them so long? The Obama administration may believe the rationale that Christian purges are mitigated by the ISIS offer of historic jizya (dhimmi tax) compliance from religious objectors. But field reports reveal that, under ISIS, the jizya option has been categorically rejected. What does the genocide designation do for targeted religious groups? Does it matter that particular religious groups are described by this designation? Should we now expect a very different policy in the Middle East?
Immigration restrictions keep millions of people stuck in impoverished countries – preventing them from improving their lives by moving somewhere else. However, some restrictions are clearly necessary to protect national security. And many say that our current laws do not go anywhere near far enough, arguing that additional restrictions are needed to prevent wage depression and the overburdening of our already-strained safety net. One way or another, immigration restrictions have an enormous impact on poverty, both domestically and abroad. But are such restrictions constitutional? This debate will address that question, along with the complex policy issues involved with the topic.