A House Judiciary subcommittee heard strong backing Thursday from Utahns for a bill that, if it had been in effect 35 years ago, would have given victims of atomic test fallout the right to sue the United States for damages.
The Supreme Court threw out the fallout victims' suit in January, saying the government cannot be sued for "discretionary acts."The current measure is sponsored by Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah. Owens said he found no reason or justice in protecting the government from such suits.
"It has resulted in an injustice that should never be permitted to occur again."
The bill would not apply to victims of radioactive fallout from the tests in the 1950s and '60s because the Constitution bars ex post facto, or retroactive, laws.
Janet C. Gordon, head of Citizens Call, an organization of downwind fallout victims, told the subcommittee that the Supreme Court "helped perpetrate a shameful travesty of justice" by throwing out the fallout suits.
Pat Broudy of the National Association of Radiation Survivors testified that government lawyers told the courts last year that the Atomic Energy Commission knew of the fallout hazard but covered it up.
She called the tests "demented human experiments."