Biden-Gaza Genocide Case: Constitutional and International Law Scholars, Ex-Diplomats, Service Members, and Intelligence Officers Back Palestinians’ Appeal

Groups Submitting Amicus Briefs Also Include 139 NGOs From Around the World, Arab-American orgs, Jewish Voice for Peace

March 15, 2024, San Francisco – An esteemed array of individuals and organizations is supporting the Palestinians, Palestinian human rights organizations, and Palestinian-Americans who are arguing that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals must consider their claims that U.S. officials failed to prevent – and are complicit in – Israel’s genocide in Gaza. Legal scholars, former military leaders and diplomats, civil and human rights groups, and NGOs from around the world submitted amicus briefs in favor of their appeal after a lower court dismissed their case on strictly jurisdictional grounds while finding a “plausible” case for genocide

The lawsuit, filed in November in the Northern District of California, asks the court to enjoin President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Austin from providing weapons and other forms of support for Israel’s genocide of Palestinians. The administration has sent more than one hundred arms shipments to Israel since October 7 and continues to provide weapons without conditions, even as an emerging famine kills even more children in Gaza. 

Judge Jeffrey S. White dismissed the case based on the political question doctrine, which has often been interpreted to put discretionary policies of the executive branch outside the purview of the courts. But in the brief submitted on the plaintiffs’ behalf, the Center for Constitutional Rights and co-counsel Van Der Hout LLP say that failing to prevent and aiding and abetting genocide can never be a policy decision, and that the Constitution requires that the federal judiciary apply the law, including the Genocide Convention. 

Eight amicus briefs were submitted in support of the Palestinian plaintiffs, arguing for reversal of the district court’s opinion:

- Eleven Constitutional, federal courts, and international law scholars demonstrate how failing to reverse the district court’s decision would create serious mischief and uncertainty by contradicting Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court political question jurisprudence and degrading the essential judicial role in interpreting and applying the law, including norms of international law, treaties, and their implementing statutes.

- Seventeen former diplomats, service-members, and intelligence officers describe how a refusal by the Ninth Circuit to apply the law would seriously erode the United States’ moral authority and influence on the international stage, and would have lasting impacts on the effectiveness of U.S. foreign policy, as well as on international peace and security writ large. 

- Eleven civil rights and grassroots organizations that collectively advocate for the rights and interests of the Palestinian people and of Black, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities detail the harms Palestinian Americans have been subjected to as a direct consequence of  U.S. complicity in the ongoing genocide in Gaza. The brief highlights harms both to Palestinian Americans and their families in Gaza as well as here in the United States, including discrimination and other consequences that flow from U.S. officials’ sanctioning of a genocidal campaign against their people. 

- Thirty-eight international law scholars argue that if international law is to vindicate the rights of individuals to be protected from acts of genocide, the domestic courts of all States—including the United States—must enforce the prohibition on genocide.  

- One hundred thirty-nine human rights organizations, bar associations, and social justice movement lawyers from around the world assert that domestic courts are supposed to be the primary enforcement mechanism of international law and, in the context of the United States, are the only meaningful forums.

- The Center for Justice and Accountability outlines one of the most fundamental requirements set out by international law: that U.S. courts provide access to an effective remedy where the United States is implicated in the commission of jus cogens violations such as genocide.  

- Global Rights Compliance, the leading legal organization on prohibiting, preventing, and seeking accountability for mass starvation and associated violations, and individual international legal experts spell out how events unfolding in Gaza since October 2023 implicate the war crime of starvation. The brief also explains the legal nexus between that crime and the infliction of destructive conditions of life as an underlying act of genocide.

- Jewish Voice for Peace argues that courts must review the complicity of the United States in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza, which not only erases the memory of those Jews and others slaughtered during the Holocaust, but also makes a mockery of the Genocide Convention.

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hear oral argument in San Francisco in June 2024.

The organizational plaintiffs in the case are Defense for Children International – Palestine and Al-Haq. The  individual plaintiffs are Dr. Omar Al-Najjar, Ahmed Abu Artema, and Mohammed Ahmed Abu Rokbeh in Gaza; and Mohammad Monadel Herzallah, Laila Elhaddad, Waeil Elbhassi, Basim Elkarra, and Ayman Nijim, U.S. citizens with family in Gaza.

For more information, see the Center for Constitutional Rights’ case page.  

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at


Last modified 

March 15, 2024