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<center><bold>US court to rule on trade ban
</bold>Supporter say state invoked sanctions play important role
Afederal appeals court is considering Whether United States cities and
states have the right to boycott foreign regimes.
The case,heard on Tuesday,involves the Massachusetts Burma law,which
sanctions companies that trade with Burma. Massachusetts enacted the law
in 1996 because of human rights violations by that country's military
The National Foreign Trade Council,(NFTC)representing major
corporations,challenged the law. Their purpose:to set a precedent that
bars local governments from imposing sanctions like those that human
rights groups say helped end apartheid in South Africa.
The NFTC's initial challenge succeeded in November,when a US District
Court judge ruled the Massachusetts law interferes with the federal
government's power to set foreign policy.
In a case that is expected to go to the US Supreme Court, Massachusetts
appealed that decision.
In the federal courtroom overlooking Boston Harbor, where the country's
Boycott of English tea began 226 years ago, each side made starkly
different arguments over who has the right to set foreign policy.
State and local governments clearly don't have foreign policy powers,but
Massachusetts is trying to exercise them, said Timothy Dyk, the NFTC's
"Massachusetts is trying to regulate conduct on the other side of the
world," Mr Dyk said.
Arguing for the state, Assistant Attorney general Thomas Barnico said it
is Congress that must decide whether a state or local government may
enact legislation that affects foreign affairs.