Alien Tort Statute

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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.

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Winter 2018 Supplement for Bradley & Goldsmith, Foreign Relations Law: Cases and Materials

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Alien Tort Statute

Jesner v. Arab Bank: The Supreme Court Should Not Miss the Opportunity to Clarify the “Touch and Concern” Test

Jesner v. Arab Bank, a case concerning the Alien Tort Statute in which the Supreme Court will hear oral argument on Wednesday, will give the court a chance to clarify the cryptic "touch and concern" standard.

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