This morning’s opinion in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum concludes that the presumption against extraterritoriality applies to claims brought under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”), and that nothing in the statute rebuts that presumption. The Court thus affirms the decision of the Second Circuit—which had dismissed the plaintiffs’ ATS-based suit against multinational corporations. Plaintiffs were all foreign nationals, as were the defendant companies; the lawsuit had alleged the companies’ complicity in human rights violations committed on foreign territory.
The Chief Justice wrote the opinion, in which Justices Scalia, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy joined. Justice Kennedy also wrote a concurrence; as did Justice Alito, who was joined by Justice Thomas. Justice Breyer concurred in the judgment. Justices Ginsberg, Sotomayor and Kagan all joined Breyer’s opinion.