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Massachusetts Appeals Ruling on M
- Subject: Massachusetts Appeals Ruling on M
- From: suriya@xxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 10 Nov 1998 21:26:00
Subject: Massachusetts Appeals Ruling on Myanmar Trade Law
Massachusetts Appeals Ruling on
Myanmar Trade Law
BOSTON (Reuters) - Massachusetts will appeal a federal
judge's ruling that
declared unconstitutional its law penalizing companies doing
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, officials said Tuesday.
"Massachusetts stands with-- not against-- the federal
government in its policy
toward the current Burma regime," Massachusetts Attorney
Harshbarger said in announcing the appeal.
President Clinton slapped sanctions on Myanmar in May 1997,
investments by U.S. companies while allowing existing
business to continue.
Myanmar, ruled by the military, has had Nobel Peace laureate
Aung San Suu
Kyi under house arrest.
"The (U.S.) Constitution allows the states to choose not to
buy goods and
services from persons who do business with countries that
violate human rights,"
The National Foreign Trade Council, a Washington-based group
that do business overseas, challenged the 1996 Massachusetts
law, which adds
10 percent onto bids for state contracts from companies
doing business with
Myanmar. The European Union filed a brief supporting the
The EU and Japan are protesting the law before the World
The Clinton administration has pledged to defend the law
before the world trade
Chief U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro ruled on Nov. 4 that
Burma Law "unconstitutionally infringes on the federal
authority to regulate foreign affairs ... State interests,
no matter how noble, do
not trump the federal government's exclusive foreign affairs
His ruling, while binding only in Massachusetts, casts doubt
over the legality of
similar "selective-purchasing statutes" elsewhere. Some 20
cities, including New
York and San Francisco, have similar laws regarding trade
Frank Kittredge, president of the powerful Washington,
council, welcomed the appeal.
"We have always wanted to take this case as far as we could
in the court
system," he said. A ruling by a federal appeals court would
be binding in the rest
of New England and Puerto Rico.
More than 30 companies including Textron Inc. and Johnson &
affected by the state's law, according to court papers.
U.S. cities enacted dozens of similar laws that helped
dismantle the apartheid
regime in South Africa during the 1980s. Other U.S. courts
have rejected legal
challenges to such laws.
"If selective purchasing had been banned 10 years ago,
President) Nelson Mandela might be still in prison today,"
Rep. Byron Rushing, a Democrat from Boston who wrote the
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