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U.S. supports review of South Africa case

The Justice Department on Friday notified attorneys in the massive case seeking more than $400 billion in damages for wrongs done during South Africa’s apartheid era that the government will join in asking the Supreme Court to stop the lawsuit.  In a letter to counsel, U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement said his office will file a friend-of-Court brief by Feb. 11.  Under Supreme Court Rules, notice of that intent was required by Friday, ten days in advance of a due date.   The text of the key part of the letter is reproduced at this point.

A group of American and foreign companies on Jan. 10 filed an appeal, challenging a Second Circuit Court decision permitting the case to proceed further.  An earlier post describing that petition (with a link to the petition itself) can be found at this site.

The South African government has opposed the lawsuit, arguing that it interferes with its efforts to bring about reconcilation to overcome the effects of the apartheid regime.  It presumably will take part in the case in the Supreme Court.  UPDATE: In a letter to counsel on Friday, U.S. lawyers for the Republic of South Africa reiterated that it continues to oppose the lawsuit, and said that, if the Court grants review, it will join in the case to make that argument. The letter said a decision had not yet been made on whether to file an amicus brief prior to a grant of review.