Courts have dealt two more blows to the California legislature's longstanding effort to pursue its own foreign policy on reparations issues. An appeals court agreed, as the L.A. Times summarizes matters, that "California officials overstepped their authority when they passed the state's Holocaust art-restitution law, because they intruded on what is strictly a federal government prerogative to shape policies on war and foreign affairs." And a Ninth Circuit panel ruled unconstitutional, as an interference with U.S. foreign policy, a California law that had been used to leverage large settlements against life insurers over the deaths of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923. The panel ruled 2-1 that the state lacked the power to define the slaughters as "genocide", a word the U.S. government has refrained from applying. [National Law Journal] Earlier the state enacted a law at the behest of Sen. Tom Hayden that unsuccessfully aimed at opening up lawsuits against Japan over mistreatment of American POWs in World War II, a stance not approved of by the U.S. State Department.
If these rebukes keep up, perhaps California will be so miffed that it will recall its ambassadors from Washington, D.C. Or perhaps the trial lawyers who often figure prominently in the Sacramento lobbying for such bills will at length turn their ingenuity to less blatantly unconstitutional schemes.