It has been half a year since the Supreme Court decided Jesner v. Arab Bank, which held that the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) did not permit federal courts to recognize causes of action against foreign corporations. When the Jesner ruling was announced, commentators disagreed about its impact.
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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.
By now, most Lawfare readers will be aware of the issues before the Supreme Court in Jesner v. Arab Bank, which was decided yesterday. The plaintiffs/petitioners—foreign victims of overseas terrorist attacks—brought suit against the Arab Bank, a major Jordanian financial institution, for allegedly providing financial support and services to terrorists and terrorist organizations responsible for the attacks.
Now that liability for corporations (foreign ones, at least) under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) is off the table, the recriminations can begin.
Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision in Jesner v. Arab Bank was genuinely shocking. The case involved victims of terrorism and the plaintiffs sought a tort remedy against alleged financial supporters of that wrong. Few believed that the conservative justices, whatever their corporate-friendly jurisprudence across the board, would foreclose a remedy on these facts. Yet they did.