Letters Blogatory contributor Jared Hubbard, who represented a group of amici arguing in favor of Sudan, was at the Supreme Court yesterday for oral argument in Sudan v. Harrison, and he shares the following report. To set the stage: victims of the USS Cole bombing sued Sudan for damages. The plaintiffs sought to serve process on Sudan by sending the summons by mail to the minister of foreign affairs, via the Sudanese embassy in Washington, under 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a)(3). Before the Second Circuit’s decision holding that the service was sufficient, I should have said that the service was obviously insufficient and that there is no good reason to stretch the statute to accommodate what the plaintiffs did here, since § 1608(a)(4) provides a foolproof method of service when § 1608(a)(3) doesn’t work. You may want to read SCOTUSBlog’s account of the argument. The transcript of the argument is also available.
I attended the argument in Sudan v. Harrison yesterday, and I thought Letters Blogatory readers might like a “hot take” from an admittedly biased source (I was counsel to several amici arguing in favor of Sudan).
At least four justices seemed to be in favor of reversal and of holding that service cannot be made on embassies. Justices Sotomayor and Breyer were concerned about the Vienna Convention as well as the practical difficulties involved in service on embassies. Justice Sotomayor pointed out that under our law, the summons is normally delivered to a person where that person is, and not to some subsidiary location. Justice Breyer also pointed out that no other country allows service of process on embassies, while he found at least 27 countries that actively do not allow such service. (more…)