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Federal lawsuit filed against Illinois Sudan sanctions law

[JURIST] The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) [advocacy website] on Monday filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Illinois, seeking to overturn the state's Act to End Atrocities and Terrorism in the Sudan [text]. The Illinois law bars state pension funds from investing in companies or financial institutions that are connected to Sudan [JURIST news archive], as well as borrowers and other business associations doing business with Sudan, but the NFTC argues that the Illinois law is unconstitutional because sanctions against Sudan have already been imposed at the federal level and therefore state and local governments are pre-empted from imposing separate sanctions. President Bush signed the Sudan Peace Act [PDF text; DS backgrounder] in 2002, federal legislation which codified an earlier executive order issued during the Clinton administration banning US trade with and investment in Sudan. The boards of eight Illinois public employee pension funds joined the lawsuit, saying that the Illinois law forces them to divest international mutual funds.

The lawsuit relies in part on the US Supreme Court's 2000 decision in Crosby v. NFTC [text], where the Court ruled that federal sanctions on Myanmar pre-empted Massachusetts from imposing separate sanctions at the state level. AP has more. The US State Department's Washington File has additional coverage.

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