Last fall, I posted “FSIA Service… it’s really not that difficult” following several very poorly titled articles describing the Trump Administration’s support of a foreign government’s argument in a sovereign immunity case. Sudan had asserted that service on its Embassy in Washington was not appropriate under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, and the Department of Justice weighed in on Sudan’s side. The outrage from both left and right irked the hell out of me. But the knee-jerk, non-lawyer reaction from the left– my own people, for crying out loud– really set my teeth on edge. Yesterday, logic won.
Not to brag, but I picked the tally, right down to which single justice out of the nine would be on the wrong side of reason…
This is a pretty straightforward question, and one I suspect the Supremes will decide on a lopsided (8-1?) vote.*** It all boils down to this: The Sudanese Foreign Minister isn’t resident in Washington. He’s in Khartoum. And even when he is in Washington representing his government, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations will thwart service on his person.
*** Thomas, J. in dissent, maybe.
Nailed it. Yesterday, in Republic of Sudan v. Harrison, the Supremes held 8-1 (Thomas, J. dissenting!), that the Sudanese Foreign Minister isn’t resident in Washington. He’s in Khartoum. From the Syllabus: “A foreign nation’s embassy in the United States is neither the residence nor the usual place of business of that nation’s foreign minister.”
Ah, bright lines.