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American Insurance Association v. Garamendi

United States Supreme Court
539 U.S. 396 (2003)


Facts

During the 1990s, the United States and Germany entered into the German Foundation Agreement, in which Germany agreed to set up a $7 billion foundation to compensate Holocaust victims. The foundation cooperated with the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC), which consisted of Holocaust survivors, European insurance companies, and U.S. state-insurance companies. ICHEIC worked with European insurance companies to access information on the policies and claims of Holocaust survivors. The United States also executed similar agreements with Austria and France, promising to do its best to ensure that U.S. state governments would not interfere with the foundation’s claim-resolution efforts. In 1999, the State of California (defendant) enacted the Holocaust Victim Insurance Relief Act (HVIRA), requiring any insurer conducting business in California to disclose information about insurance policies issued to persons in Europe between 1920 and 1945. If a company refused to do so, then that company could not do business in California. California argued that the HVIRA was necessary to protect California residents’ claims and related interests. The federal government contended that the HVIRA undercut the ICHEIC. The American Insurance Association and several insurance companies (plaintiffs) sued the state, arguing that the HVIRA infringed upon the executive branch’s established foreign policy. The district court granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs, and the court of appeals reversed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

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Holding and Reasoning (Souter, J.)

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Dissent (Ginsburg, J.)

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