This post is by Emilia Beuger (LL.M. Utrecht), JD Candidate at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
As noted in an earlier post on this site, the United States Supreme Court granted a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation on September 30, 2021. Below is a more detailed discussion of the issues at play in this case.
This case originated in the state of California and was then appealed to the Ninth Circuit before filing a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States. The central legal issue concerns the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), whose application and interpretation has been split across Circuit Courts.
The issue before the Supreme Court is whether a federal court hearing state law claims brought under the FSIA must apply the forum state’s choice-of-law rules to determine what substantive law governs the claims at issue, or whether it may apply federal common law. The state law is California’s choice-of-law test and the federal common law’s choice-of-law test is set forth in the Restatement (Second) Conflict of Laws. The FSIA does not have an express choice of law provision.