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The Armenian Genocide

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Armenian Genocide by Turks Denial Effort Deterred

August 16th 2010

History-Genocide - Armenian Victims

On August 12, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals First Circuit affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of the Griswold vs. Driscoll case. The case involved an attempt to include a listing of websites arguing against the Turkish genocide of Armenians in a listing of websites documenting the genocide.

In a unanimous opinion written by retired Associate Supreme Court Justice David Souter, sitting on a three-judge panel including Michael Boudin and Jeffery R. Howard of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Massachusetts, affirmed an August 11, 2010 decision of a lower court dismissing the case, in which plaintiffs argued for the inclusion of genocide denial literature in the Massachusetts human rights curriculum.

In its decision, the panel ruled against the plaintiffs for waiting too long to complain, and ruled against the individual plaintiffs on First Amendment and standing grounds. The panel decided that the Guide on Armenian Genocide instruction fit into the curriculum classification rather than a school library, and even if the school library cases did apply, that law would not allow the genocide denial actions that the plaintiffs sought.

The legal battle began after William Schechter, a former teacher at Lincoln-Sudbury High School, a teacher, and others raised issues with “The Massachusetts Guide to Choosing and Using Curricular Materials on Genocide and Human Rights Issues,” which includes teaching the Armenian Genocide as an established fact. The guide, which was issued in 1999 following legislation from State Sen. Steven Tolman, does not forbid teachers from discussing other points of view. As such, the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) and the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund attempted to include information into the curriculum guide including a list of “contra-genocide” sources. Appeals were then made to get the information removed, then a suit was filed in 2005 as a First Amendment case by the ATAA.

A number of groups filed amicus briefs on the case, including the Armenian Assembly of America, Armenian Bar Association, Armenian National Committee, International Association of Genocide Scholars, Irish Immigration Center, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian explained upon hearing of the decision, “We welcome the Court’s landmark decision rejecting profoundly hateful and misguided pressure on educators to teach Armenian Genocide denial in America's public schools.”

Cutting Edge human rights analyst Gregg J. Rickman served as the first U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism from 2006–2009.

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