In Immunity Case, Justices Ask What Meaning Of Word 'Is' Is

By Jimmy Hoover (October 31, 2018, 8:31 PM EDT) -- The U.S. Supreme Court wrestled with the scope of immunity that international organizations like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund enjoy during oral arguments in a tort case Wednesday, trying to decipher the meaning of the word "is" in a 73-year-old statute.

In 1945, Congress passed the International Organizations Immunities Act granting international organizations the same immunity from suit "as is enjoyed by foreign governments."  At the time, foreign governments enjoyed near absolute immunity, but decades later Congress passed the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act creating an exception for commercial activity.

On Wednesday, the justices grappled with whether the IOIA provides...

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