"The bill is not written specifically about Saudi Arabia or the 9/11 attacks. As it is currently drafted, it could be invoked to allow suits against states for international terrorism that causes harm to U.S. plaintiffs, even when the U.S. government does not consider that state to be a sponsor of terrorism. For example, could Palestinian-Americans try to use JASTA to sue Israel in the United States? Language in the bill could cut both ways. A ton of problems could prevent those suits from going anywhere, but the plaintiffs could try," Stephen I. Vladeck said in this CFR interview.
"The bill succeeded not with significant congressional debate or intense pressure from voters, but rather through the sheer will of the victims’ families, who seized on the 15th anniversary of the attack and an election year to lean on members of Congress. That effort was aided by lawmakers’ waning patience with the kingdom in recent years," Jennifer Steinhauer, Mark Mazzetti, and Julie Hirschfeld Davis write for the New York Times.
"The 9/11 families strongly believe this is a legalistic way of saying that America places its diplomatic relationship with Saudi Arabia above justice for American citizens. The European Union has backed up the Obama administration in its decision, as have an array of top national-security officials from Republican and Democratic administrations. ... In the end, however, all of the lobbying from the 9/11 families, and the millions of dollars spent by the Saudis in return, obscure an important fact about JASTA: the legislation is far more symbolic than anything else. Any teeth the bill had were taken out when senators amended the legislation to make it more palatable to the Obama administration," Daniel D. Depetris writes for the American Conservative.