The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Jesner v. Arab Bank, PLC further restricts federal private litigation to vindicate international human rights law, perhaps to a vanishing point. In retrospect, even Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain’s guarded endorsement of such lawsuits seems exceptional. Both Kiobel v.
Paul Stephan is the John C. Jeffries, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law. He is an expert on international business, international dispute resolution and comparative law, with an emphasis on Soviet and post-Soviet legal systems. In addition to writing prolifically in these fields, Stephan has advised governments and international organizations, taken part in cases in the Supreme Court of the United States, the federal courts, and various foreign judicial and arbitral proceedings, and lectured to professionals and scholarly groups around the world on issues raised by the globalization of the world economy. During 2006-07, he served as counselor on international law in the U.S. Department of State. He currently is a coordinating reporter for the American Law Institute’s Restatement (Fourth) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States. Other interests for Stephan, who joined the University of Virginia’s law faculty in 1979, include taxation and constitutional law.
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Today at 10 am, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice will hold a hearing on S. 2040, the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.” As readers of this blog are aware, this bill passed the Senate unanimously and now is before the House.
Last year the Supreme Court, seized with a big constitutional question about foreign relations, feinted: Bond v. United States turned on rules of statutory interpretation rather than the constitutional balance between federalism and the treaty power. Fans of constitutional controversy, which centers attention on the Court in its self-assigned role as ultimate constitutional arbiter, may regret this move, although I do not.