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Nafta Tribunals Seen as Threat to U.S. Court System
http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000082&sid=ajYLa2Sm5z18&refer=canada ^ | April 18 2004 | Bloomberg

Posted on 04/20/2004 5:35:15 PM PDT by truth4

Edited on 07/19/2004 2:13:54 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

Nafta Tribunals Seen as Threat to U.S. Court System, NYT Says April 18 (Bloomberg) -- The North American Free Trade Agreement tribunals that hear challenges to U.S. court rulings are criticized by some legal experts as a threat to the U.S. judicial system, the New York Times reported.


(Excerpt) Read more at quote.bloomberg.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: globalism; interdependence; nafta; sovereignty

1 posted on 04/20/2004 5:35:19 PM PDT by truth4
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To: truth4
"If Congress had known that there was anything like this in Nafta, they would never have voted for it"

HA, ha, ha...

Some people still have too much blind faith in our "public servants".

2 posted on 04/20/2004 5:39:52 PM PDT by inquest (The only problem with partisanship is that it leads to bipartisanship)
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To: truth4
``If Congress had known that there was anything like this in Nafta, they would never have voted for it,''

What did Congress know and when did it know it? How could Congress miss something like this? There has to be more to the story.

3 posted on 04/20/2004 5:40:43 PM PDT by kdot
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To: inquest
``If Congress had known that there was anything like this in Nafta, they would never have voted for it,'

Perhaps if Congress had read it they would have known it was in there.
4 posted on 04/20/2004 5:44:20 PM PDT by DaiHuy (MUST HAVE JUST BEEN BORN THAT WAY...)
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To: truth4
``If Congress had known that there was anything like this in NAFTA, they would never have voted for it,'' Abner Mikva, a former chief judge of the federal appeals court in Washington and a former congressman, told the Times, referring to the Nafta clause that created the tribunals.

NAFTA was about what it is still all about, money. If NAFTA had completely eliminated our National Borders, and done away with our government entirely, Congress would still have passed it and Bill "I smoked but din't inhale" Clinton would still have signed it.
5 posted on 04/20/2004 5:44:33 PM PDT by ChevyZ28 (Most of us would rather be ruined by praise, than saved by criticism.)
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To: ChevyZ28
`If Congress had known that there was anything like this in NAFTA

do they read

6 posted on 04/20/2004 5:46:00 PM PDT by truth4
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To: ChevyZ28
Nafta Tribunals Stir U.S. Worries

By ADAM LIPTAK
New York Times
April 18, 2004


After the highest court in Massachusetts ruled against a Canadian real estate company and after the United State Supreme Court declined to hear its appeal, the company's day in court was over.

Or so thought Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall of the Massachusetts court, until she learned of yet another layer of judicial review, by an international tribunal.

"I was at a dinner party," Chief Justice Marshall said in a recent telephone interview. "To say I was surprised to hear that a judgment of this court was being subjected to further review would be an understatement."

Tribunals like the one that ruled on the Massachusetts case were created by the North American Free Trade Agreement, and they have heard two challenges to American court judgments. In the other, the tribunal declared a Mississippi court's judgment at odds with international law, leaving the United States government potentially liable for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Any Canadian or Mexican business that contends it has been treated unjustly by the American judicial system can file a similar claim. American businesses with similar complaints about Canadian or Mexican court judgments can do the same. Under the Nafta agreement the government whose court system is challenged is responsible for awards by the tribunals.

"This is the biggest threat to United States judicial independence that no one has heard of and even fewer people understand," said John D. Echeverria, a law professor at Georgetown University.

In the Massachusetts case, brought by Mondev International, the Nafta tribunal decided in 2002 that the Massachusetts courts had not violated international law.

But in a separate pending case, brought by a Canadian company challenging the largest jury verdict in Mississippi history, a different Nafta tribunal offered a harsh assessment of Mississippi justice.

"The whole trial and its resultant verdict," the three-judge tribunal ruled last summer, "were clearly improper and discreditable and cannot be squared with minimum standards of international law and equitable treatment."

The Mississippi case arose from an exchange of companies between a Canadian concern, the Loewen Group, and companies owned by a Mississippi family, the O'Keefes. The O'Keefe family, contending that the Loewen Group did not live up to its obligations, sued for breach of contract and fraud. Although the tribunal found that the businesses were worth no more than $8 million, a jury in Jackson, Miss., awarded the family $500 million in 1995.

Loewen settled the case the next year, for $175 million. But, arguing that the trial had been unfair and that it had been coerced into settling by a requirement that the company post an appeal bond of $625 million, Loewen and one of its owners filed their claim in the Nafta tribunal in 1998. They asked for $725 million from the United States.

The availability of this additional layer of review, above even the United States Supreme Court, is a significant development, legal scholars said.

"It's basically been under the radar screen," Peter Spiro, a law professor at Hofstra University, said. "But it points to a fundamental reorientation of our constitutional system. You have an international tribunal essentially reviewing American court judgments."

The part of Nafta that created the tribunals, known as Chapter 11, received no consideration when it was passed in 1993.

"When we debated Nafta," Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said in 2002, "not a single word was uttered in discussing Chapter 11. Why? Because we didn't know how this provision would play out. No one really knew just how high the stakes would get."

Senator Kerry spoke before the tribunal rulings concerning the Massachusetts and Mississippi judgments. He offered his comments in connection with legislation he had offered to limit the jurisdiction of the tribunals. His amendment was rejected by the Senate.

Abner Mikva, a former chief judge of the federal appeals court in Washington and a former congressman, is one of the three Nafta judges considering the Mississippi case. He declined to discuss it but did offer his perspective on Chapter 11.

"If Congress had known that there was anything like this in Nafta," he said, "they would never have voted for it."

The other judges considering the case are Anthony Mason, a former chief justice of the Australian High Court, and Michael Mustill, a former British law lord. They were selected by the parties, and their judgment cannot be appealed.

Though the tribunal called the Mississippi trial "a disgrace" and "the antithesis of due process," it denied the claim of the company itself last summer. The tribunal said the Loewen Group was ineligible to bring the claim because it had become an American company in the meantime. The trade agreement allows claims only by foreign investors.

But a separate claim by Raymond L. Loewen, a former owner of the company who was and is Canadian, remains pending. He did not specify the damages he is seeking. A decision is expected soon.

Even Mr. Loewen's American lawyer, John H. Lewis Jr., expressed some discomfort with the power of the Nafta tribunals.

"I agree with the principle that that people should not short-circuit or second-guess the American legal system," he said. "But this case was so extreme that hopefully it will never happen again."

About a score of cases have been filed against the three countries that are parties to the trade agreement, mostly in connection with environmental and other regulations. The United States has yet to lose one, but Canada and Mexico have had to pay damages to American investors.

In the Mississippi case, the tribunal had faulted Judge James E. Graves Jr. of Circuit Court in Jackson for allowing lawyers for a Mississippi businessman to make "prejudicial and extravagant" statements to the jury about the Canadian defendants' wealth and nationality.

"Judge Graves failed in his duty to take control of the trial by permitting the jury to be exposed to persistent and flagrant appeals to prejudice," the panel wrote. "The conduct of the trial by the trial judge was so flawed that it constituted a miscarriage of justice."

Justice Graves, now a justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court, declined to comment.

Similar tribunals existed in other trade agreements even before Nafta.

"Bilateral investment treaties went both ways," said Todd Weiler, a Nafta expert at the University of Windsor Law School in Canada, "but in practice there weren't that many Barbadians or Nicaraguans investing in the U.S."

But there is substantial Canadian and Mexican investment here. That means, judges and legal scholars said, that the tribunals have the potential to upset the settled American constitutional order.

"There are grave implications here," Chief Justice Ronald M. George of the California Supreme Court said in an interview. "It's rather shocking that the highest courts of the state and federal governments could have their judgments circumvented by these tribunals."
7 posted on 04/20/2004 5:50:03 PM PDT by truth4
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To: truth4
I doubt it.
8 posted on 04/20/2004 5:50:20 PM PDT by ChevyZ28 (Most of us would rather be ruined by praise, than saved by criticism.)
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To: DaiHuy
Perhaps if Congress had read it they would have known it was in there.

They knew it was there, or didn't care. It wasn't like they weren't warned that this thing would be a threat to our sovereignty.

9 posted on 04/20/2004 5:50:22 PM PDT by inquest (The only problem with partisanship is that it leads to bipartisanship)
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To: truth4
``If Congress had known that there was anything like this in Nafta, they would never have voted for it,'' Abner Mikva, a former chief judge of the federal appeals court in Washington and a former congressman, told the Times, referring to the Nafta clause that created the tribunals.

Liar. This is what congressmen will claim when they vote for a far worse nation killer than NAFTA, "they never had time to read it all". It should be a death penalty not to read and understand all legislation passed before voting for it. Voice votes should be outlawed.
10 posted on 04/20/2004 5:56:26 PM PDT by MissAmericanPie
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To: truth4
Statement: "Nafta Tribunals Seen as Threat to U.S. Court System"

Response: One can be sure that if any treaty, law or proposal will harm the American people then any person holding office at any level of government or in any branch; Federal, State or local will support it. This principle is true whether the support for harming us all is based upon malice or ignorance.

11 posted on 04/20/2004 5:57:32 PM PDT by AEMILIUS PAULUS (Further, the statement assumed)
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To: truth4
Talk about your arrogant courts:
US, Mexico and Canada ALL told the tribunal that it was misinterpreting the treaty!

http://www.state.gov/s/l/c3755.htm

12 posted on 04/20/2004 6:07:38 PM PDT by mrsmith ("Oyez, oyez! All rise for the Honorable Chief Justice... Hillary Rodham Clinton ")
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To: MissAmericanPie
NAFTA Corridor
http://www.amerikanexpose.com/othlinks.html#NAF
13 posted on 04/20/2004 6:07:52 PM PDT by truth4
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To: MissAmericanPie
Border 21 and TRIP
The Border 21 draft document outlines the Border 21 Program's main goal to promote the sustainable development of the United States-Mexico border region. More specifically, the program "seeks to identify environmental needs, quantify resource requirements, delineate possible sources of financing, and allocate resources for specific projects which address those needs, in a sustainable and viable manner for the border region." The program has created nine working groups in the following areas: environmental information resources; natural resources; water; air; hazardous and solid waste; pollution prevention; contingency planning and emergency response; environmental health; and cooperative enforcement. The three overarching strategies to carry out the goal of sustainable development in the region are to: 1) ensure public involvement; 2) strengthen institutions and decentralize environmental decision-making; and 3) promote interagency cooperation.

United Nations Economic and Social Council

14 posted on 04/20/2004 6:11:19 PM PDT by truth4
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To: mrsmith
New World Order Rising? - Thoughts on the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/743512/posts?page=10
15 posted on 04/20/2004 6:12:58 PM PDT by truth4
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To: mrsmith
The Highest Court You've Never Heard Of (Do NAFTA judges have too much authority?)http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/651917/posts
16 posted on 04/20/2004 6:16:53 PM PDT by truth4
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To: truth4
I've no problem with countries establishing by treaty to submit certain cases under the treaty to a special tribunal for final arbitration.

This court, like many civil courts, wants to decide for itself what powers it has by interpreting the treaty as it likes.
But treaties are defined by the signatories.

17 posted on 04/20/2004 6:32:16 PM PDT by mrsmith ("Oyez, oyez! All rise for the Honorable Chief Justice... Hillary Rodham Clinton ")
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To: inquest
A simple cure to the whole mess is ... NO FOREIGN ENTANGLEMENTS! (UN included....).
18 posted on 04/20/2004 6:40:54 PM PDT by GOP_1900AD (Un-PC even to "Conservatives!" - Right makes right)
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To: ChevyZ28
If NAFTA had completely eliminated our National Borders, and done away with our government entirely,...

The FTAA will accomplish that.

19 posted on 04/20/2004 6:46:58 PM PDT by niki
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To: kdot
NAFTA Tribunal seen as threat to all the social, labor, and environmental laws of the 20th century

Or, as Hillary would say: "They're trying to roll back the New Deal".

20 posted on 04/20/2004 6:54:05 PM PDT by Ben Ficklin
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To: truth4
So the NY Times has a problem with a NAFTA tribunal, but not with the ICC? We must only put their favorite courts above the constitution.
21 posted on 04/20/2004 7:56:53 PM PDT by aynrandfreak (If 9/11 didn't change you, you're a bad human being)
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To: truth4
TRADING DEMOCRACY
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/fr/622674/posts
22 posted on 04/20/2004 10:42:59 PM PDT by quietolong (use html one place you need to use it everywere)
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To: DaiHuy
It doesn't sound like they read either the thousands of pages of the NAFTA government agreement nor the US Constitution.
23 posted on 04/20/2004 11:02:04 PM PDT by FITZ
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