Court Rejects Lawsuit Seeking to End American Aid to Israel

From Friday’s decision by Magistrate Judge Virginia DeMarchi in Nguyen v. U.S. (N.D. Cal.):

Ms. Nguyen alleges that after hearing about the Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians on October 7, 2023, she did “some research” on the internet and “learned that Israel is an apartheid government” and that “the U.S. government … has been supporting this apartheid government of Israel by sending them at least $3 billions [sic] of military aid each year.” She claims that U.S. aid to Israel violates the “Preamble of the Declaration of Independence,” the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Ms. Nguyen requests “$5 trillion[ ] if a WWIII erupts; however since America is in debt of $31 trillion[ ], I’ll take a letter of apology [and end of U.S. aid to Israel] or $25,000 for turning in this lawsuit….

A court may authorize the commencement of a civil action in forma pauperis if it is satisfied that the applicant cannot pay the requisite filing fees. In evaluating such an application, the court should grant or deny IFP status based on the applicant’s financial resources alone and then independently determine whether the complaint withstands review under § 1915(e)(2)(B).

A court must dismiss a case filed without the payment of the filing fee whenever it determines that the action “(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” A complaint must include facts that are “more than labels and conclusions, and formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” A complaint is frivolous if “it ha[s] no arguable substance in law or fact.” …

Ms. Nguyen alleges that “Israel has been an apartheid state for many decades against the Palestinians” and that U.S. aid to its government violates the Declaration of Independence’s statement that “all men are created equal,” the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. She also alleges that the United States violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment by “offer[ing] $3 billion a year in military aid to an apartheid government of Israel living on stolen HOLY land where Jesus was born and where the Hamas terrorists stated that their Muhammed died & went to heaven.” Ms. Nguyen claims that U.S. aid to Israel has harmed her by, among other things, causing “the mental illness of worrying that WWIII might erupt so I have to sue by writing this lawsuit to release my pain” and forcing her “to relinquish my American citizenship to go back to Vietnam to certify my disapproval of the [United States’] wrongdoing.”

As explained in more detail below, Ms. Nguyen’s claims are frivolous and have no plausible basis in law or fact. The complaint challenges U.S. aid to Israel and expresses a “generalized grievance against allegedly illegal government conduct.” Ms. Nguyen lacks Article III standing with respect to such challenge.

Ms. Nguyen’s first claim is based on the Declaration of Independence, but that founding document does not provide any basis for a private right of action against the United States or any other defendant.

Ms. Nguyen’s second claim refers to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but the complaint does not specify which of the statute’s provisions Ms. Nguyen intends to invoke. See, e.g., 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000a (prohibiting discrimination in places of public accommodation); 2000d (prohibiting discrimination in federally funded programs); 2000e-2 (prohibiting discrimination in employment). To the extent Ms. Nguyen intends to rely on Title VI, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, the Court notes that this provision applies to certain programs within the United States that receive federal funds, but does not apply to programs conducted by the federal government itself.

Ms. Nguyen’s third claim is based on the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. That statute imposed significant sanctions against South Africa’s white minority government. However, it was repealed twenty years ago, and it does not apply to any of the facts alleged in the complaint.

Ms. Nguyen’s fourth claim is for violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion …” The premise of the claim is Ms. Nguyen’s objection that U.S. military aid supports Israel’s occupation of “religious land.” Ms. Nguyen does not explain how she has any individual interest in the alleged U.S. support for Israel’s occupation of “religious land,” nor does she cite any other basis that could conceivably support such a claim against the United States itself or any of its officials.

Accordingly, the Court concludes that Ms. Nguyen fails to state a claim and that, as currently pled, her complaint is frivolous….

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