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in a 5-4 decision, the justices reversed a 9th Circuit ruling that held that California’s Holocaust Victim Insurance Relief Act of 1999-which requires any insurer doing business in the state to disclose information about all policies sold in Europe between 1920 and 1945 upon penalty of loss of its state business license-interferes with the president’s conduct of foreign policy and is thus pre-empted. American Ins. Ass’n. v. Garamendi, No. 02-722. Germany and the U.S. have signed an agreement, according to which the U.S. would seek to ensure that local governments respect a German government-established foundation as the exclusive forum for the settlement of Holocaust-era claims. According to the court, California could not pre-empt presidential foreign policy powers. “The issue of restitution for Nazi crimes has in fact been . . . formalized in treaties and executive agreements over the last half century, and although resolution of private claims was postponed by the Cold War . . . the consistent Presidential foreign policy has been to encourage European governments and companies to volunteer settlement funds in preference to litigation,” the court said. Souter’s opinion was joined by Rehnquist, O’Connor, Kennedy and Breyer. Ginsburg’s dissent was joined by Stevens, Scalia and Thomas.

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