1 No In the Supreme Court of the United States REPUBLIC OF ARGENTINA, v. NML CAPITAL, LTD., ET AL., Petitioner, Respondents. On Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit BRIEF FOR THE AURELIUS RESPONDENTS IN OPPOSITION ROY T. ENGLERT, JR. Counsel of Record MARK T. STANCIL ARIEL N. LAVINBUK JOSHUA S. BOLIAN Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber LLP 1801 K Street, N.W., Ste. 411 Washington, DC (202) May 7, 2014 Counsel for the Aurelius Respondents
2 i QUESTIONS PRESENTED 1. Whether this Court should certify to the New York Court of Appeals a question of state contract law, where Argentina failed to request certification until after the Second Circuit decided the state-law question, and where that court made clear that the state-law question does not affect this case s outcome. 2. Whether the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act s prohibition on the attachment, arrest, or execution of property in the United States of a foreign state, 28 U.S.C. 1609, was violated when the Second Circuit upheld an injunction that does not impose any restriction on specific Argentine property, but requires Argentina to comply with its contractual commitment to rank its payment obligations to respondent at least equally with its payment obligations under subsequently issued bonds.
3 ii RULE 29.6 STATEMENT Aurelius Capital Master, Ltd. (ACM), is an exempted company with limited liability incorporated in the Cayman Islands. Aurelius Capital International, Ltd., is the parent of ACM. No publicly held corporation owns 10% or more, directly or indirectly, of ACM. Aurelius Opportunities Fund II, LLC, is a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware. It is not a corporation. ACP Master, Ltd., is an exempted company with limited liability incorporated in the Cayman Islands. Aurelius Capital Partners, LP, is the parent of ACP Master, Ltd. Aurelius Capital GP, LLC, is the sole general partner of Aurelius Capital Partners, LP, and is the indirect parent of ACP Master, Ltd. No publicly held corporation owns 10% or more, directly or indirectly, of ACP Master, Ltd. Blue Angel Capital I LLC is a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware. It is not a corporation.
4 iii TABLE OF CONTENTS Page QUESTIONS PRESENTED... i RULE 29.6 STATEMENT... ii TABLE OF AUTHORITIES... iv STATEMENT... 1 A. Argentina s Contract and Breach... 2 B. This Case Seeking Specific Performance... 7 REASONS FOR DENYING THE PETITION I. The Certification Question Is Untimely And Inconsequential II. The Court Of Appeals FSIA Holding Conflicts Neither With The Holdings Of Other Courts Nor With The Statute III. This Case Will Not Jeopardize Foreign Relations Or The World Economy IV. The Euro Bondholders And Fintech Are Not Proper Petitioners Or Respondents CONCLUSION... 36
5 iv TABLE OF AUTHORITIES Page(s) Cases Allied Bank Int l v. Banco Credito Agricola de Cartago, 757 F.2d 516 (2d Cir. 1985) Autotech Techs. LP v. Integral Research & Dev. Corp., 499 F.3d 737 (7th Cir. 2007) Bogosian v. Woloohojian Realty Corp., 923 F.2d 898 (1st Cir. 1991)... 22, 23 Brockett v. Spokane Arcades, Inc., 472 U.S. 491 (1985) Cent. Loan & Trust Co. v. Campbell Comm n Co., 173 U.S. 84 (1899) Chafin v. Chafin, 133 S. Ct (2013) Chem. Bank N.Y. Trust Co. v. Kheel, 369 F.2d 845 (2d Cir. 1966) Coll. Sav. Bank v. Fla. Prepaid Postsecondary Educ. Expense Bd., 527 U.S. 666 (1999)... 24
6 v TABLE OF AUTHORITIES Continued Page(s) Duignan v. United States, 274 U.S. 195 (1927) Elliott Assocs., L.P. v. Banco de la Nacion, 194 F.3d 363 (2d Cir. 1999) EM Ltd. v. Republic of Argentina, 473 F.3d 463 (2d Cir. 2007)... 3 Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280 (2005) Great-West Life & Annuity Ins. Co. v. Knudson, 534 U.S. 204 (2002) Izumi Seimitsu Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha v. U.S. Philips Corp., 510 U.S. 27 (1993) Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., 133 S. Ct (2013) Laker Airways Ltd. v. Sabena, Belgian World Airlines, 731 F.2d 909 (D.C. Cir. 1984) Lehman Bros. v. Schein, 416 U.S. 386 (1974)... 13, 14
7 vi TABLE OF AUTHORITIES Continued Page(s) Louisiana v. Jumel, 107 U.S. 711 (1883) Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418 (2009) Organizacion JD Ltda. v. U.S. Dep t of Justice, 18 F.3d 91 (2d Cir. 1994) Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations v. City of New York, 551 U.S. 193 (2007) Porter v. Warner Holding Co., 328 U.S. 395 (1946) Republic of Austria v. Altmann, 541 U.S. 677 (2004) Republic of Mexico v. Hoffman, 324 U.S. 30 (1945) Republic of Philippines v. Pimentel, 553 U.S. 851 (2008) Sekhar v. United States, 133 S. Ct (2013) Stenberg v. Carhart, 530 U.S. 914 (2000)... 14
8 vii TABLE OF AUTHORITIES Continued Page(s) Tolan v. Cotton, No (May 5, 2014) United States v. Turkette, 452 U.S. 576 (1981) Weltover, Inc. v. Republic of Argentina, 941 F.2d 145 (2d Cir. 1991), aff d, 504 U.S. 607 (1992)... 3 Statutes, Rules, and Regulations 28 U.S.C U.S.C U.S.C i, 10, 19, C.F.R Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(d)(2)(C) N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit (a) Other Authorities Udaibir S. Das et al., Sovereign Debt Restructurings : Literature Survey, Data, and Stylized Facts, IMF Working Paper No. 12/203 (Aug. 2012)... 5
9 viii TABLE OF AUTHORITIES Continued Page(s) Jill E. Fisch & Caroline M. Gentile, Vultures or Vanguards?: The Role of Litigation in Sovereign Debt Restructuring, 53 Emory L.J (2004)... 7 Group of Ten, Report of the G-10 Working Group on Contractual Clauses (Sept. 26, 2002), 33 Sean Hagan, Designing a Legal Framework to Restructure Sovereign Debt, 36 Geo. J. Int l L. (2005) Hearing on H.R Before the Subcomm. on Claims and Governmental Relations of the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 93d Cong. (1973) Hearing on H.R Before the Subcomm. on Administrative Law and Governmental Relations of the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 94th Cong. (1976) J.F. Hornbeck, Cong. Research Serv., R41029, Argentina s Defaulted Sovereign Debt: Dealing with the Holdouts (Apr. 25, 2013)... 6, 30, 32, 35 H.R. Rep. No (1976)... 19, 29
10 ix TABLE OF AUTHORITIES Continued Page(s) Institute of International Finance, Capital Markets Monitor (Apr. 2013) International Monetary Fund, IMF Executive Board Discusses Financial Risk in the Fund and the Level of Precautionary Balances, PIN No. 04/16 (Mar. 5, 2004), 1lG6ZZb International Monetary Fund, Sovereign Debt Restructuring Recent Developments and Implications for the Fund s Legal and Policy Framework (Apr. 26, 2013), 1kdQF0u... 5, 33, 35 Moody s Investors Service, The Role of Holdout Creditors and CACs in Sovereign Debt Restructurings (Apr. 10, 2013)... 32, 34 Moody s Investors Service, US Court Ruling on Argentina s Debt Could Have Limited Implications for Sovereign Debt Restructurings (Dec. 6, 2012) Press Release, Paris Club and Institute of International Finance, Meeting of the Paris Club with Representatives of Non Paris Club Bilateral Creditors and Representatives of the Private Sector (Oct. 22, 2013), 31
11 x TABLE OF AUTHORITIES Continued Page(s) Hal S. Scott, A Bankruptcy Procedure for Sovereign Debtors?, 37 Int l Law. 103 (2003) State Immunity Act, 1978, c. 33, 15 (U.K.) State Immunity Act, 1985, s. 17 (Sing.) John B. Taylor, Sovereign Debt Restructuring: A U.S. Perspective (Apr. 2, 2002), 33, 34 U.S. Dep t of State, 2013 Investment Climate Statement Argentina (Feb. 2013), 26 United Nations Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property, G.A. Res. 59/38, U.N. Doc. A/RES/59/38 (Dec. 2, 2004) Mark Weidemaier et al., Origin Myths, Contracts, and the Hunt for Pari Passu, 38 Law & Soc. Inquiry 72 (2013) Xiaodong Yang, State Immunity in International Law (2012)... 30
12 BRIEF FOR THE AURELIUS RESPONDENTS IN OPPOSITION Respondents Aurelius Capital Master, Ltd., ACP Master, Ltd., Aurelius Opportunities Fund II, LLC, and Blue Angel Capital I LLC respectfully oppose the petition for a writ of certiorari, for the reasons stated below, as well as those stated in the briefs in opposition filed by other plaintiff-respondents. STATEMENT This is a breach-of-contract case. The promise at issue is a covenant requiring Argentina to treat its payment obligations on respondents bonds equally with its payment obligations on certain other debts. 1 The purpose of this equal-treatment provision which is distinct from Argentina s promises to make interest payments and repay principal was to assure bondholders that, come what may, their payment obligations would rank at least equally with others. Argentina broke that promise. The district court entered injunctions requiring Argentina to honor it. In its final bid to escape (or delay) accountability for violating that covenant, Argentina makes two arguments. First, Argentina claims it never prom- 1 We use respondents to refer to the plaintiffs below. Bank of New York Mellon is a defendant-respondent but has filed nothing in this Court. Certain non-parties also mistakenly claim to be respondents, as discussed in Part IV of the argument section of this brief.
13 2 ised equal treatment. But Argentina knows this Court would not seriously entertain a petition seeking review of a fact-bound question of state contract law, much less one on which both lower courts have unanimously and repeatedly agreed. So Argentina takes a different tack: It demands a do-over in state court. The problems with that transparent and untimely request are numerous and obvious. In any event, and contrary to Argentina s breathless assertions, this case is anything but the boilerplate archetype for all sovereign debt disputes. Second, Argentina contends that the FSIA s restriction on attachment arrest and execution of sovereign property prohibits U.S. courts from specifically enforcing the contractual equal-treatment promise. As Argentina recognizes, however, this argument implicates no circuit conflict, and even the United States has conceded that injunctions against sovereigns could be proper in certain factual circumstances, making the second question just as factbound as the first. In any event, there is no error to correct: These in personam injunctions flow directly from the district court s unquestioned jurisdiction to adjudicate liability authority Argentina granted by explicitly waiving sovereign immunity. They are not even in the same ballpark as in rem writs of attachment, arrest, or execution that seek to satisfy a money judgment. A. Argentina s Contract and Breach 1. This case concerns a contract (the Fiscal Agency Agreement, or FAA) under which Argentina issued bonds in the 1990s. Bond buyers recognized that Argentina had default[ed] on its sovereign
14 3 obligations numerous times over the past two centuries, through what [one] might term a diplomacy of default. EM Ltd. v. Republic of Argentina, 473 F.3d 463, 466 n.2 (2d Cir. 2007). To induce investors to buy despite that history, Argentina put investor-friendly terms in its FAA contract. First, Argentina expressly waived its sovereign immunity every way it could. It waived its immunity from the jurisdiction of this Nation s courts. Pet. App. 203 ( The Republic hereby irrevocably waives and agrees not to plead any immunity from the jurisdiction of any such court.... ). Separately, it waived any immunity it might have from enforcement of our courts judgments anywhere in the world: To the extent that the Republic... shall be entitled... in any jurisdiction in which... any suit... may at any time be brought solely for the purpose of enforcing... [a U.S.] Judgment, to any immunity from... execution of a judgment or from any other legal or judicial process or remedy... the Republic has... irrevocably waived such immunity to the fullest extent permitted by the laws of such jurisdiction. C.A. App. A204 (emphasis added). Second, Argentina submitted to the laws and the courts of New York. Pet. App. 201, 203. And it knew firsthand what New York law means. Just three years earlier, two federal courts had rejected Argentina s claim for FSIA immunity involving still other bonds on which it had defaulted. Weltover, Inc. v. Republic of Argentina, 941 F.2d 145 (2d Cir. 1991), aff d, 504 U.S. 607 (1992). Enforcement of investors contracts with a sovereign, the Second Circuit had already said, was essential to New York s status as a preeminent commercial center. Id. at 153.
15 4 Third, Argentina included the pari passu clause at issue here. That clause provides: The Securities will constitute... direct, unconditional, unsecured and unsubordinated obligations of the Republic and shall at all times rank pari passu and without any preference among themselves. The payment obligations of the Republic under the Securities shall at all times rank at least equally with all its other present and future unsecured and unsubordinated External Indebtedness.... Pet. App This clause is more investor-friendly than other pari passu clauses. Subsequent Argentine bonds, for example, eliminated the payment obligations language that the court of appeals found important here. See Pet. App (opinion); C.A. App. A1197, A1235 (subsequent bonds). This clause also is materially different from that found in many other sovereigns bonds. See infra at In 2001, Argentina defaulted on its bonds governed by the FAA contract. Since then, it has not paid FAA bondholders a dime. Pet. App. 33. To the contrary, Argentina has taken extraordinary and unprecedented steps to deny them their contractual rights. Unlike the vast majority of sovereign bonds outstanding today, the FAA bonds did not include a collective action clause (CAC) that would allow a contractually prescribed majority of bondholders to bind all bondholders to a restructuring on particular terms. Nor is there an international sovereign
16 5 bankruptcy regime allowing cram-down of plans of reorganization on unconsenting creditors. Nevertheless, it is Argentina s position advanced in this Court less than a month ago that holdouts like [respondents] are free to litigate to collect more, but foreign states cannot fairly be expected to prefer them to the creditors who restructured. Reply Brief for Petitioner 3, Republic of Argentina v. NML Capital, Ltd., No (filed April 14, 2014) ( Reply Br. ) (emphasis added). That is, Argentina claims entitlement to treat non-consenting creditors in a restructuring the same as or worse than consenting creditors. Yet Argentina has never pointed to anything in the contract or any provision of U.S. or New York law (or even international law) that says that. Under international norms and International Monetary Fund (IMF) policy, Argentine authorities were expected to negotiate with creditor committees. International Monetary Fund, Sovereign Debt Restructuring Recent Developments and Implications for the Fund s Legal and Policy Framework 36 (Apr. 26, 2013), ( IMF Report ). But that didn t happen: [N]o constructive dialogue was observed and the authorities presented a nonnegotiated offer. Ibid. Argentina made investors a take-it-or-leave-it offer to accept new bonds that would pay cents for every dollar investors were owed, Pet. App. 34 materially less than poorer nations like Ecuador and Côte d Ivoire have paid in the wake of defaults. Udaibir S. Das et al., Sovereign Debt Restructurings : Literature Survey, Data, and Stylized Facts, IMF Working Paper No. 12/203, at 37 (Aug. 2012).
17 6 In its prospectus for the new exchange bonds, Argentina declared that it has no intention of resuming payment on any FAA bonds. Pet. App. 34. And it enacted legislation, dubbed the Lock Law, cementing that position. That legislation forbade paying the FAA bonds, swapping them for new bonds, or settling with FAA bondholders. Pet. App Accordingly, in SEC filings, Argentina proclaimed that its FAA bonds belonged to a separate category of its debt, which Argentina was not in a legal... position to pay. Pet. App. 38 (quotation marks omitted). The message to investors was clear: Accept pennies on the dollar, or get nothing. In 2005, just 76% of investors traded their predefault bonds for the new exchange bonds. Pet. App. 35. Reflecting the onerous terms Argentina had proposed, the default was unprecedented for its... low recovery rate... and large residual holdout. J.F. Hornbeck, Cong. Research Serv., R41029, Argentina s Defaulted Sovereign Debt: Dealing with the Holdouts 5 (Apr. 25, 2013) ( CRS Report ). Both logic and history show why even 76% of investors accepted such a paltry offer: Litigation to enforce promises made by a sovereign is arduous and expensive, causing many investors to despair of ever prevailing in enforcing the sovereign promises. Argentina reprised this process in It temporarily suspended the Lock Law and re-opened its 2005 exchange offer. Pet. App By the end of 2010, participation in the bond exchange rose to almost 92%. Pet. App Argentina has made regular payments under the terms of the exchange bonds, including billions of dollars while these ap-
18 7 peals have been pending. It has paid the FAA bondholders nothing. B. This Case Seeking Specific Performance Respondents hold defaulted, non-exchanged bonds governed by the FAA. 2 They sued Argentina because it had breached a provision of the FAA s pari passu clause known as the Equal-Treatment Provision. That provision requires Argentina to rank its payment obligations under respondents bonds at least equally to the exchange bonds. Respondents sought an injunction ordering specific performance. Pet. App Throughout their briefs, Argentina and its amici stoop to irrelevant ad hominems. E.g., Pet. 8. Malefactors cannot avoid accountability simply by maligning those that have the courage of their convictions, the resources to litigate against the lawless, and the willingness to entrust their fate to the judicial system rather than accept a settlement they considered grossly inadequate. Moreover, it is legally irrelevant whether respondents purchased their FAA bonds at par (as some of them did) or at a discount (as some of them did). If secondary purchasers had fewer contractual rights and remedies than their sellers had, the bond markets would collapse, since bonds would be worth more in the hands of would-be sellers than in the hand of would-be buyers. See Jill E. Fisch & Caroline M. Gentile, Vultures or Vanguards?: The Role of Litigation in Sovereign Debt Restructuring, 53 Emory L.J. 1043, 1047 (2004) (noting that so-called vulture funds serve as a check on opportunistic defaults and onerous restructuring terms, promote the functioning of the international capital markets, increase capital flows to sovereign debtors, and increas[e] liquidity in the market for sovereign debt ).
19 8 1. The district court entered summary judgment for respondents in December Pet. App. 80. It held that Argentina had breached the Equal- Treatment Provision by lowering the rank of the FAA bonds, both by enacting the Lock Law and by persistently refusing to pay on the FAA bonds while paying on the exchange bonds. Pet. App. 81. Two months later, in an intensely fact-bound ruling, the district court determined that the injunctions at issue here were an appropriate remedy within the district court s wide equitable discretion. E.g., Pet. App The injunctions order Argentina to specifically perform its promise to rank its payment obligations to respondents at least equally with its other debt. Argentina must, if and when it makes a payment on the exchange bonds, make a ratable payment to respondents. Pet. App The injunctions do not require Argentina to pay any bondholder any amount of money. Pet. App. 58. Argentina may comply by, for example, paying both respondents and the exchange bondholders nothing, for that is equal ranking of payment obligations. 2. In October 2012, the court of appeals affirmed in part and remanded. Pet. App. 29. First, the court of appeals agreed with the district court that Argentina was in breach of the Equal- Treatment Provision. There, as here, e.g., Pet. 10, Argentina contended that pari passu clauses were mere boilerplate. Pet. App. 47. But the court of appeals, citing a catalog of authorities, disagreed. Pet. App. 48. [T]he preferred construction of pari passu clauses in the sovereign debt context is far from general, uniform and unvarying. Pet. App. 48 (quotation marks omitted).
20 9 Thus, the court of appeals proceeded to construe the particular pari passu clause in the FAA. The first sentence, it held, prohibits Argentina, as bond issuer, from formally subordinating the bonds. Pet. App. 50 (emphasis in original). But that could not be the meaning of the entire clause, the court explained, as there is a second sentence. Pet. App. 49. That second sentence the Equal-Treatment Provision prohibits Argentina, as bond payor, from paying on other bonds without paying on the FAA bonds. Pet. App. 50 (emphasis in original). Argentina had breached the Equal-Treatment Provision through a multi-year course of conduct that included refusing to pay respondents while repeatedly paying the exchange bondholders, declaring through its executive that Argentina would never pay respondents, and enacting the Lock Law. Pet. App , 61 n.16. In the alternative, the court held that, even were Argentina s construction of the Equal-Treatment Provision correct, Argentina still would be in breach. Argentina had argued there, as it does here, Pet , that the Equal-Treatment Provision refers only to legal subordination and that none occurred here because any claims that may arise from [Argentina s] restructured debt have no priority in any court of law over claims arising out of [Argentina s] unrestructured debt. Pet. App. 49 (quotation marks omitted). But, the court of appeals recognized, Argentina has imposed precisely this sort of legal subordination by codifying its refusal to pay into Argentine law (the Lock Law). Pet. App. 52. Second, the court of appeals rejected Argentina s contention that the injunctions violate the FSIA. The FSIA, the court recognized, bars only attach-
21 10 ment arrest [or] execution of Argentina s property. Pet. App. 57 (quoting 28 U.S.C. 1609). Each of these three terms, the court explained, refers to a court s seizure and control over specific property. Pet. App. 57. The injunctions, by contrast, seize or control no property. They affect Argentina s property only incidentally to the extent that [they] prohibit Argentina from transferring money to some bondholders and not others. Pet. App. 58. And [a] federal court sitting as a court of equity having personal jurisdiction over a party has power to enjoin him from committing acts elsewhere. Pet. App. 59 (quotation marks omitted). The court of appeals ordered a limited remand on two questions not at issue here. Pet. App. 63. Meanwhile, Argentina sought this Court s review. No (petition filed June 24, 2013). As in its current petition, Argentina asserted that the injunctions violate the FSIA. It also presented the question not presented in its current petition whether the injunctions independently are unlawful because they exceed the district court s equitable powers. The Court denied that petition. 134 S. Ct. 201 (2013). 3. In November 2012, the district court resolved the two issues that the court of appeals had remanded. Pet. App First, it clarified the nature of the ratable payment remedy. Pet. App If Argentina pays the exchange bondholders 100% of what they are due under their bonds, it must pay respondents 100% of what is due under their FAA bonds approximately $1.3 billion plus accruing interest. Pet. App And, if Argentina pays the
22 11 exchange bondholders 50% (for example) of what they are due, then it must pay respondents only 50% of what they are due. Second, the court clarified how the injunctions would, by automatic operation of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(d), bind third parties. Pet. App Argentina again appealed. For the first time, it asked the court of appeals to certify a question to the New York Court of Appeals: Does violation of a pari passu clause support the remedy at issue in this case...? Arg. Br (2d Cir. Dec. 28, 2012) (Dkt. No. 657). That is not the same question that Argentina now asks this Court to certify. The former concerned how to remedy Argentina s breach; the latter concerns whether there is any breach in the first place. See Pet. ii. The court of appeals affirmed. It confirmed that the FSIA does not prohibit the injunctions. Far from effecting the attachment arrest [or] execution of immune property, the injunctions allow Argentina to pay its FAA debts with whatever resources it likes. Pet. App. 11. The court declined to certify any question to the New York Court of Appeals. Order (2d Cir. Jan. 10, 2013) (Dkt. No. 777). The court also addressed Argentina s premonitions that affirming the injunctions would cause the sky to fall in Argentina or in sovereign restructurings generally concluding that those claims are speculative, hyperbolic, and almost entirely of [Argentina s] own making. Pet. App. 22. Argentina echoes many of the same premonitions now in its petition, most notably:
23 12 Argentina s assertion that it may not be able to pay both respondents and the exchange bondholders, see Pet. 11, 18, 29, 33, was rejected on the basis of the factual record. The Second Circuit explained that Argentina makes no real argument that it cannot pay and that Argentina presented no evidence on this issue in the district court, which found as fact that Argentina was able to pay. Pet. App. 23. Argentina s claim that the injunctions will imperil future sovereign debt restructurings, see Pet. 18, 33, 34-36, was likewise rejected, with the court noting that it might reach a different result on different facts. [T]his case is an exceptional one with little apparent bearing on transactions that can be expected in the future, the court held. Pet. App. 25. We simply affirm the district court s conclusion that Argentina s extraordinary behavior was a violation of the particular pari passu clause found in the FAA. Pet. App Argentina s contention that the outcome of this case threatens to steer bond issuers away from the New York marketplace, see Pet. 16, was exactly backward: [M]aintaining New York s status as one of the foremost commercial centers is advanced by requiring debtors, including foreign debtors, to pay their debts. Pet. App. 27 (emphasis added).
24 13 REASONS FOR DENYING THE PETITION I. The Certification Question Is Untimely And Inconsequential Unhappy with two lower federal courts unanimous reading of the Equal-Treatment Provision, Argentina now asks this Court to certify this simple question of contract interpretation to the New York Court of Appeals. Pet. App. 47 (quotation marks omitted). The perils of affording such a do-over are obvious. Moreover, this question is not determinative of this litigation: The Second Circuit held in the alternative that Argentina would lose even under Argentina s own construction of the Equal- Treatment Provision. In any event, the Second Circuit was correct in interpreting the contract to give each of the two sentences in the FAA s pari passu clause distinct meaning. 1. This Court is the first court to which Argentina has presented this question. Although Argentina (belatedly) asked the court of appeals to certify a pari passu question, Pet. 15, that was a different question not whether there was a breach, but whether the breach justified the remedy. See supra at 11. The certification question thus was not pressed or passed upon below. See Duignan v. United States, 274 U.S. 195, 200 (1927). What is more, Argentina did not ask the lower courts to certify any question until both had rejected its reading of the Equal-Treatment Provision. Certification exists to build a cooperative judicial federalism, Lehman Bros. v. Schein, 416 U.S. 386, 391 (1974), not to let litigants play until they win. This
25 14 Court does not allow state-court losers to resurrect their arguments in federal court. See Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005). Nor should it allow federal-court losers to seek a second (really, third) chance in state court. Why does Argentina now make this extraordinary request? Its new counsel understands that this Court virtually never grants review of a state-law question at all, much less one on which two lower federal courts have agreed. Stenberg v. Carhart, 530 U.S. 914, 940 (2000). That longstanding practice reflect[s] the Court s belief that district courts and courts of appeals are better schooled in and more able to interpret the laws of their respective States. Brockett v. Spokane Arcades, Inc., 472 U.S. 491, 500 (1985). That principle is especially valid here. The Southern District of New York and the Second Circuit have vast expertise in New York commercial disputes. The appellate panel consisted of three New York-based judges. 2. Certification is further unwarranted because it would not affect the outcome of the case. The court of appeals held that, even under Argentina s interpretation, the Republic breached the Provision by enacting the Lock Law. Pet. App. 52. The question is therefore not determinative and thus is unfit for certification. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit (a); accord Stenberg, 530 U.S. at 945. Instead of sav[ing] time, energy, and resources, as it should, Lehman Bros., 416 U.S. at 391, certification here would only drag out this long-running case (which, since the injunctions are stayed pending disposition of this petition, is among Argentina s highest objectives).
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