On Friday, Judge Leonie M. Brinkema of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted government motions to dismiss and for summary judgment in Al Shimari v. CACI, a case brought by plaintiffs who were detained in Abu Ghraib. The full opinion is available here and below.
Alien Tort Statute
The Alien Tort Statute (ATS) grants U.S. district courts jurisdiction over cases in which an alien sues “for a tort only… in violation of the law of nations or of a treaty of the United States.” In 1980, the Second Circuit’s opinion in Filártiga v. Peña-Irala set new precedent for interpreting the ATS, allowing foreign citizens to use U.S. courts to litigate violations of international law that occurred outside the United States. The statute quickly became a tool of those seeking relief for human rights violations. While its scope was restricted by a 2013 Supreme Court decision limiting its application in cases with a minimal connection to the United States, the ATS’ scope and meaning remain a contentious topic with far-reaching implications.