On March 5, we packed the courtroom to overflowing with over 50 supporters showing support for our lawsuit that asks the Court to order the Minnesota State Board of Investment (SBI) to divest from Israel Bonds. The purpose of the hearing was to allow each side to argue two competing motions to Judge Marrinan; the SBI’s motion to dismiss our Complaint and our counter-Motion for Summary Judgment.
Judge Marrinan allowed an hour for the lawyers on both sides to argue their positions while listening attentively. The SBI’s attorney, an Assistant Minnesota Attorney General (AG), focused her argument in support of dismissal on two points. First, that the statute that authorizes the SBI to invest state retirement funds permits it to invest in Israel Bonds. Secondly, she argued that the question of Israel Bond investments is a political question best left for the policy makers.
Our attorney, Jordan Kushner, argued that the state statute expressly restricts the SBI’s investment in foreign government bonds to Canadian bonds, that time-honored canons of statutory construction prevent the SBI from attempting to find any authorization in the statute permitting the SBI to invest in Israel Bonds and that investment in Israel Bonds illegally aids and abets violations of the Geneva Convention. Our attorney argued that the legality of the SBI’s Israel Bond investments is a question of law for the Court, not the politicians. He also presented a chart showing that the millions in state retirement funds that the SBI has invested in Israel Bonds is singularly disproportionate to other investments.
After Judge Marrinan closed the arguments, she asked each side to prepare proposed orders and to file them simultaneously on March 19. Our proposed order can be read here: MN BBC_Proposed_Order. The State’s was filed as two separate documents, the first in support of their Motion to Dismiss the Case and the second opposing our Motion for Summary Judgment: SBI_Proposed_Order_Document#1 and SBI_Proposed_Order_Document#2.
The judge will use language from the proposed orders to write her ruling. If the judge adopts our language and signs our proposed order, the state will be ordered to divest immediately. If she doesn’t, we will carefully consider our next steps knowing that we have already made a difference. We have put Minnesota’s complicity in Israel’s human rights violations front and center in a Minnesota court of law. Stay tuned as the case proceeds, and thanks to all who came out for the first hearing!