This question is a continuation of the question, asked here.
As far as the international laws are concerned Iran can not sue US nor CIA for its participation of the coup of 1953. Is this also true for US citizens?

Can a US citizen sue CIA for sponsoring a coup in Iran?

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    Should be on law.se – user4012 Jun 19 '17 at 17:40


Any U.S. citizen would be barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity in U.S. courts as well as by the statute of limitations for any such claim (the events happened 64 years ago, even though official acknowledgement of the U.S. involvement was made only this year).

A U.S. citizen also lacks standing to assert a claim of harm to the sovereign of Iran as of 1953 who, from exile, could have asserted a claim himself. You must suffer an individualized injury from the alleged wrongdoing to bring any claim.

It is hard to conceive of any theory upon which a non-U.S. court would recognize such a claim.

  • Just for the sake knowledge, is a U.S. citizen capable of sueing a govermental institution for war crimes in general ? – Kaan E. Jun 19 '17 at 18:05
  • @KaanE. U.S. citizen (or a non-U.S. citizen, there isn't a distinction in most cases) is allowed to sue the government officials involved for an intentional violation of his civil rights under the U.S. Constitution (and other theories) and can sue the government as well if there is an official policy of doing so as opposed to government officials acting on their own. A government orchestrated coup against a sovereign monarch, however, is not a war crime and does not usually constitute a violation of civil rights. – ohwilleke Jun 19 '17 at 18:08
  • to be precise... yes.. anyone can sue literally anyone for literally anything. i could sue you because i don't like your profile image. that does not mean the suit wouldn't be dismissed by a judge. – I wrestled a bear once. Jun 19 '17 at 19:47
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    @Iwrestledabearonce. - And the inverse no matter how badly the suit runs counter to the law it is possible for a set of judges decide that such a suit should go forward on its merits. Look at Jones V Clinton, and the recent 9th circuit rulings. – SoylentGray Jun 19 '17 at 19:54
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    @SoylentGray The law isn't perfectly predictable, but it isn't random either. There is much more consensus and agreement among judges regarding the legal stance of issues than there is in politics. Even in the U.S. Supreme Court which handles the most divisive issues and is deeply divided politically, unanimous or near unanimous decisions are common. – ohwilleke Jun 20 '17 at 3:30

This other question asks whether a US citizen can sue the government for failing to uphold criminal laws. While the question is different, the answer is largely the same, so all quotes below are from the accepted answer by Avi.

This is for a large number of reasons. First, both the State and Federal governments have sovereign immunity, according to the Supreme Court. This says means that you cannot sue the government unless it has, in some statute, consented to the suit.

As far as I know, there are no laws in place which allow you to sue the government for anything its intelligence arms do to a foreign country, and the presence of such a law would be very crippling to the government's interests.

To bring a suit, you must have standing. To have standing, it is generally required that you are suffering or will imminently suffer an actual injury as a result of some action on the part of the party you are suing, and that this injury is redressible by a favorable legal decision.

The problem here is that you have likely not suffered an injury, nor will you imminently. Dangerous as this group may generally be, unless you can demonstrate that you specifically have or imminently will suffer an injury, and can reasonably trace this injury to government action, you won't have standing to sue. The Court has required a high degree of specificity and certainty when claiming standing due to imminently impending injury; see, for example, L.A. v. Lyons 461 U.S. 95 (1983), Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife 504 U.S. 555 (1992), Clapper v. Amnesty International 568 U.S. ___ (2013).

In other words, you would have to show that you, personally were harmed by the Iran coup, or possibly even by the CIA's specific actions in supporting it. Obviously, someone who lost family to the coup and has since become a US citizen could argue that they have standing, but they still wouldn't have an applicable law to sue under.

  • but they still wouldn't have an applicable law to sue under. - Apparently that is no longer necessary if you have judges friendly to your cause... cnn.com/2017/06/12/politics/9th-circuit-ruling-travel-ban/… – SoylentGray Jun 19 '17 at 19:58
  • @SoylentGray - I would say that the law in that case was the 1st amendment. But you're right that said amendment doesn't explicitly grant the ability to sue. I believe that Constitutional challenges are an entirely different category of lawsuit than what either this question or the one I linked to addresses. After all, an unconstitutional law which doesn't affect anyone at all (such as one which said that any national debts from before 1789 are now void, a violation of Article VI) is still unconstitutional. Finding someone with standing to file the suit is a different story, though. – Bobson Jun 19 '17 at 20:15
  • There is no law that says that what someone the president was known to associate with says has any applicability to whether or not the action is constitutional or not. And yet it is cited as a major reason for the need to invoke 1st amendment protections proactively rather than waiting until there are actual damages, or even an attempt to enforce the order improperly. – SoylentGray Jun 19 '17 at 20:21
  • @SoylentGray - Sounds like a topic for a new question about the legality of suing over the travel ban. – Bobson Jun 19 '17 at 20:22
  • The legality of it all will play out in courts and even most progressive lawyers do not expect the inital ruling to survive. – SoylentGray Jun 19 '17 at 20:40

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