Two researchers who were involved in interviewing former combatants in the Irish Troubles for a Boston College oral history project have won a stay of a federal appeals court order that one of the interviews should be turned over to the British government.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer ruled today that the order from the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston should be stayed, while the researchers prepare a writ of certiorari, seeking a Supreme Court hearing of their case. Breyer set a deadline for the request of Nov. 16.
The order will be stayed until then. It will also be stayed while the court considers the researchers’ request. If the court doesn’t agree to hear their case, the stay will expire. If the court agrees to hear their case, then the order will be stayed until the court issues a ruling on the case, Breyer’s order said.
Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre vowed in August that they would take their case to the Supreme Court after the Boston appeals court decided not to rehear — or have the full court hear — the case. A three-judge panel of the appeals court had previously rejected their appeal in July.
Today’s Supreme Court order was “significant in the sense that it keeps alive the chance of getting Supreme Court review. ... At least they’re alive to fight another day. That’s really what it says,” said Jonathan Albano, one of the attorneys representing Moloney and McIntyre.
On behalf of unidentified law enforcement officials in the United Kingdom, federal prosecutors have issued subpoenas seeking information related to a 1972 slaying in which the Irish Republican Army has admitted involvement.
The subpoenas were issued under a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the United States and Britain.
But the Belfast Project, the goal of which was to document the Troubles, a decades-long period of violence, promised both Irish republican and British loyalist former combatants that their statements would not be released until their deaths. The project began in 2001 and interviews were recorded between 2001 and 2006.
The order by Breyer blocks a subpoena for an interview with former IRA member Dolours Price. Boston College, meanwhile, continues a separate legal battle in appeals court over a second set of subpoenas seeking other interviews, said Albano.
Albano said Moloney and McIntyre want the right to object to both sets of subpoenas.