SCOTUS Sets Precedent on the Expropriation Exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Ruling that Germany Cannot Be Sued in the United States for Taking Property from Its Own Citizens
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the Jewish heirs of German art dealers, who in 1935 sold gilded German reliquaries dating back to the 11th to 15th centuries (known as the Guelph Treasure) to the Nazi-controlled Prussian government. The heirs sued Germany in the United States, arguing that the sale was a “genocidal taking” under duress and seeking restitution of the reliquaries. Germany unsuccessfully argued before the district court and a federal appeals court that this case should be dismissed on the grounds that U.S. courts cannot hear lawsuits against foreign governments and their agencies.
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