(JTA) — The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously rejected an appeal by Holocaust survivors and their heirs who wanted to pursue restitution claims in the United States after failing in the countries where the art was stolen.
The opinion published Wednesday, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, agreed with the defense and with the U.S. government, which joined the defense, that allowing the lawsuits to go ahead would contradict international agreements.
The two cases are known as the Republic of Hungary v. Simon and Federal Republic of Germany v. Philipp.
The plaintiffs are Hungarian survivors who were deported to death camps and whose property was appropriated by the Hungarian collaborationist government, and the descendants of German Jewish art dealers who say that Nazi German authorities coerced their ancestors into selling their collections to the state at less than market value.
The defendants, the governments of Germany and Hungary, claimed that the Foreign Sovereignty Immunities Act protects foreign governments from having to defend claims in U.S. courts.
The plaintiffs contended that an exception to the act holds that claims regarding property taken in violation of international law may be pursued in U.S. courts.