WaPo: Trump’s SCOTUS Nominee Represented An Iranian Terrorist Group
The Washington Post reports that President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett “represented an affiliate of an Iranian exile group as it challenged its State Department designation as a foreign terrorist organization.”
- Barrett disclosed the work in the Senate questionnaire she submitted in 2017 during her confirmation process for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, though it was not raised during her confirmation hearing.
- Barrett said she was one of five lawyers on a team representing the National Council of Resistance of Iran from 2000 to 2001, which petitioned to review the State Department’s designation of the group as a foreign terrorist organization.
- “The NCRI is affiliated with the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), a onetime militant group comprising Iranian exiles who oppose Iran’s clerical regime” that the Obama administration removed from the list of terrorist groups in 2012.
Barrett wrote that she “assisted with legal research and briefing” for the Iranian exile group’s case while she worked for Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin LLP, a law firm that merged with Baker Botts LLP in 2001 during her employment there.
The State Department designated the MEK as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997, citing its involvement in the killing of Americans in Iran during the 1970s.
- MEK spokesperson Shahin Gobadi said the group was designated as a foreign terrorist organization unfairly in 1997 to curry favor with Iran.
- The newspaper noted that “Barrett played a small role in the MEK’s years-long effort to remove its terrorist designation in the United States.”
In her questionnaire, Barrett said the counsel of record on the case was Martin D. Minsker, signaling that she was a junior lawyer on the case.
- The State Department ultimately revoked the group’s designation in 2012, “citing the group’s public renunciation of violence and the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism for more than a decade,” The Post reported.
Arthur Hellman, a professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and an expert on the U.S. federal courts, said Barrett, as a junior associate at a law firm, probably would not have had permission to choose her clients — and in any case shouldn’t be judged by them. He said the Supreme Court could use judges with more experience in private practice.
“If we think it’s desirable, as I and a lot of others do, that you have justices on the Supreme Court who have gotten their hands dirty with real-world litigation — some of that is probably going to be on behalf of clients that are not terribly admirable,” Hellman said.