Reading Room

Thursday, March 16, 2017
Posted by Scott Yundt

Yesterday, March 15, 2017, a three judge panel (Judges McKeown, Bybee, and Mollway) at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard oral argument in the case filed by the Republic of the Marshall Islands against the United States for its failure to make “good faith” efforts to negotiate nuclear disarmament as required by Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The case was on appeal from the lower court after a federal district judge dismissed it on procedural grounds. Yet, rather than focus on those specific procedural grounds, the 9th Circuit panel spent the bulk of the hearing time focused on very specific questions including: 1) what it might order the executive branch to do to satisfy Article VI; and, 2) whether Article VI is “self-executing” and whether it has a domestic effect. Laurie Ashton, chief counsel for the Marshall Islands, did a careful and thorough job responding to the Court’s inquiries while also managing to make many important point on the merits of the case.

At the end of the hearing, Judge M. Margaret McKeown thanked the Amici (which includes Tri-Valley CAREs) for their excellent amicus briefs. Now we await a written decision, which could take several months or more... Click here to read Tri-Valley CAREs' Amicus Curiae brief in support of the Marshall Islands.