Trump's Supreme Court nominee represented Iranian exile group in fight to end terror designation

Trump's Supreme Court nominee represented Iranian exile group in fight to end terror designation
Amy Coney Barrett was on a team of lawyers representing the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an Iranian opposition group then listed as a terrorist organisation.
3 min read
30 September, 2020
Barrett was nominated by Trump to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg [Getty]
President Donald Trump's latest pick for the US Supreme Court once represented an exiled Iranian opposition group in its bid to be removed from a list of foreign terrorist organisations.

Amy Coney Barrett was on a team of five lawyers representing the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its US office between 2000 and 2001, The Washington Post reported.

Barrett was nominated by Trump last week to take Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat in the Court following the liberal judge's death earlier this month.

The conservative lawyer and her team aimed to help remove the Iranian opposition group from the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organisations, it is claimed.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran is affiliated with the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), a militant and political organisation that aims to overthrow the current clerical regime in Tehran.

The MEK claims it seeks to establish a "free and democratic Iran" but critics of the group descripe its practices as cultlike.

Accused of involvement in numerous assassinations and high-profile bomb plots, the organisation was formerly designated as a terrorist organisation by the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, Japan and Canada.

Barrett "assisted with legal research and briefing" for the opposition group's case while working for the Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin LLP law firm, she wrote in a 2017 questionnaire submitted as part of the confirmation process to join the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

Her work with the NCRI did not come up in the 2017 confirmation hearings. Barrett appears to have been a junior lawyer on the case.

The case Barrett worked on argued the NCRI should have been afforded due process when the State Department designated the MEK as a terrorist organisation as the group maintained both a US office and bank account.

The court agreed and ordered the State Department to disclose information used to make the designation and allow the organisation a right of rebuttal.

The MEK was ultimately removed from the list of designated foreign terrorist organisations in 2012, citing its renunciation of violence and lack of involvement in alleged acts of terrorism for over a decade. The UK, EU, Japan and Canada also removed their designations of the group between 2008 and 2012.

Barrett clerked for conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia after graduating from law school, going on to work in private practice for two years before entering academia.

She was nominated for the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in 2017 by President Trump.

Barrett, a devout Catholic and member of the People of Praise group, has attracted criticism from detractors who believe her religious views would impact upon her Supreme Court judgements if confirmed to the seat left vacant by Ginsburg.

Critics believe that, if confirmed, Barrett would skew the Supreme Court balance and place the historic Roe v. Wade judgement in danger, leading to the possible outlawing of abortion in the US.

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