The Lawyers' Committee aims to be serve as an advocate for cultural heritage, and as such, has submitted amicus briefs in the below cases.
Dominion – James River Electric Transmission Line Crossing
In summer 2018, The Lawyers' Committee joined the Cultural Landscape Foundation in submitting an amicus brief in support of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities in their lawsuit against Dominion Energy. The appeal in the D.C. Circuit involves the applicability of Section 110(f) of the National Historic Preservation Act and its applicability to the Army Corps’ permitting of a massive powerline across the James River near Jamestown. This is a project that the National Trust is engaged in and involves an important issue of preservation law in need of legal development. Section 110(f) requires federal agencies to employ a heightened duty to avoid harm to National Historic Landmarks and that the agency engage in all possible planning to do so. On March 1, 2019, after a six-year campaign to fight for this National Treasure, the National Trust and other partners received a decisive historic preservation win: The U.S. Court of Appeals rejected Dominion Energy’s permit for the James River transmission line. The Army Corps of Engineers is now required to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to review the transmission line’s impacts on cultural and natural resources.
The Lawyers' Committee joined several other organizations, nations and other foreign entities in submitting an amicus curiae brief in In Re: Riven Flamenbaum, a case concerning a German Museum's attempt to recover an ancient gold tablet taken during World War II. The amicus brief argued against the recognition of a "spoils of war" doctrine as a theory of lawful taking in times of armed conflict.
The Lawyers' Committee joined the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Society for American Archaeology, and the Archaeological Institute of America in submitting an amicus curiae brief in support of the Archaeological Conservancy in a dispute concerning Texas land with an archaeologically significant site.
The Lawyers Committee joined several other organizations in submitting an amicus curiae brief in Bakalar v. Vavra, a case involving a claimant's attempt to recover art works taken during the Holocaust. The amicus brief addressed the interpretation of the Swiss good faith purchaser doctrine in determining a transaction in Switzerland allegedly transferring title to the art works.
The Lawyers' Committee recently joined an amicus curiae brief submitted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Western Watersheds Project v. Bureau of Land Management. The case involves the scope of the President's authority to include management directives in a proclamation declaring national monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906.