Less than 24 hours after amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs were lodged with the US Supreme Court in the Boston College archives case, the American legal authorities performed a volte-face and announced that they would now lodge a brief with the court answering arguments in favor of the petitioners, former Boston College researchers, Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre.
When lawyers for Moloney and McIntyre filed their petition with the Supreme Court in November, US Solicitor-General, Donald Verrilli told the court that he did not intend to answer the petition but this morning he abruptly changed his mind, asking the court for a delay until January 31st to prepare a reply. Four amicus briefs were lodged with the Supreme Court on Thursday. Moloney & McIntyre’s lawyers will have an opportunity to answer his arguments and so it may not be until February or March before the Supreme Court decides whether to take the case on.
Moloney & McIntyre are asking the Supreme Court to reverse a decision by the First Court of Appeals in Boston denying the men the right to resist subpoenas seeking IRA interviews from Boston College’s archives, also known as the Belfast Project. The subpoenas were served by the US Department of Justice on behalf of the UK government which in turn is believed to be acting for the Police Service of Northern Ireland in an alleged investigation into the murder and disappearance of accused British Army informer Jean McConville in 1972.
Amicus briefs were lodged with the Supreme Court on behalf of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and ARTICLE 19, two of the world’s leading lobbyists for media rights, as well as by fourteen senior academics from Indiana universities and a group of Irish-American organizations, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish American Unity Conference and the Brehon Law Society.