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Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007 08:22 am

State’s wrong

Judge strikes down Sudan law

Untitled Document Illinois overstepped its authority when it enacted legislation to fight genocide in Sudan, a federal judge ruled last week.
The Act to End Atrocities and Terrorism in the Sudan — a response by the Legislature to mass killings in Darfur — interferes with the federal government’s authority to set foreign policy, said U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly in a ruling issued on Friday. Kennelly agreed with plaintiffs in the case, led by the National Foreign Trade Council, who argued that the far-reaching divestiture law was unconstitutional. The law required state pension funds to be 100 percent free of investments in companies that do business in Sudan by this summer. It was considered the most restrictive Sudan-related divestiture law in the United States. Attorney General Lisa Madigan argued that the act’s intent was not to set the direction for U.S. policy but instead to break the state’s ties with the nation in which “grave human-rights abuses” are currently taking place. Kennelly, in his ruling, described the Illinois act as inflexible: “The state has chosen a more heavy-handed approach than the national government.”
State Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins, D-Chicago, the act’s sponsor, says that the ruling won’t have an adverse impact on the Sudan-divestment movement. “Technical changes” to the act should address the judge’s concerns, she adds. William Reinsch, NFTC’s executive director, says the council will now write other states who have passed similar measures to apprise them of Kennelly’s decision “There’s no question it’s a genocide. Our member companies are trying to stop it,” he says. “We didn’t agree with the state of Illinois on how best to do that.”

Contact R.L. Nave at rnave@illinoistimes.com.
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