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Mizzima: US Democrats split over St

Democrats Split Over State Sovereignty Issue

Clinton, Gregoire on Opposite Sides.  Bradley, Gore Urged to Take a

Seattle -- February 25, 2000 --  A huge split exists between the Clinton

Administration and other Democrats over the question of whether states
continue to use anti-apartheid style laws to reflect community values in

purchasing decisions.  Clinton has joined corporate critics of a
Massachusetts law, while Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire
and other Democrats have signed on in support of Massachusetts in a case

to be heard in the US Supreme Court on March 22.

"The Massachusetts law, though it targets companies that support the
Burmese (Myanmar) military dictatorship, is literally a carbon-copy of
old South Africa law," says Simon Billenness of Trillium Asset
a socially responsible investment firm in Boston.  "It is shocking that
the Clinton administration should attack these laws, which have a long
illustrious history."

Even the Reagan Administration, which despised local anti-apartheid
defended their constitutionality.  "If Clinton had been President in the

1980's and had attacked state and local South Africa laws, then Nelson
Mandela might well still be in prison today," says Prof. Robert Stumberg

of the Georgetown law school.

Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire joined 21 other state
attorneys general, 78 members of Congress, and 16 local governments in
siding with Massachusetts, saying that states have rights as "market
participants" to decide with whom they will do business.  Massachusetts
also supported by the eight major associations that represent state and
local government, including the National Governors' Association, the
National Conference of State Legislatures and the League of
Cities/Conference of Mayors, among others.

Laws similar to the Massachusetts law in question have been instrumental

in ending Apartheid, recovering assets of Holocaust victims held by
banks, discouraging discrimination in Northern Ireland, and supporting
Burmese democracy movement led by Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

"In recent months Seattle has hosted both Nelson Mandela and Archbishop
Desmond Tutu.  Each acknowledged the importance of grass-roots
international support.  Now the Clinton Administration and a group of
multinationals want to rob us of a primary tool for practicing
democracy," says Larry Dohrs of the Seattle Burma Roundtable.  "It is
for Bradley and Gore to take a stand for local sovereignty and human

Massachusetts has lost its case in Federal Circuit Court and in a
Appeals Court.  The decisions have barred states from involvement in
the courts broadly defined as "foreign affairs."  Such a broad ruling by

the Supreme Court would also imperil laws that conflict with foreign
relations under the 18 agreements of the World Trade Organization.