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.

Latest in Alien Tort Statute

Documents

Document: Judge in Abu Ghraib Case Denies U.S. Sovereign Immunity for Jus Cogens Norms

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.

Travel Ban

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

Here is the Winter 2018 Supplement for Bradley & Goldsmith, Foreign Relations Law: Cases and Materials (6th ed. 2017). These materials cover, among many other things, the Supreme Court’s decision in Trump v. Hawaii (the “travel ban” case), which is excerpted with questions; the Supreme Court’s decision in Jesner v.

Alien Tort Statute

Summary: Supreme Court Rules in Jesner v. Arab Bank

This Tuesday, the Supreme Court held in Jesner et al. v. Arab Bank, PLC that the federal courts are not available to aliens in actions against foreign corporations.

In a 5-4 vote, with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing the majority opinion, the court affirmed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s dismissal of the case and held that aliens cannot bring suit under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) against foreign corporations.

Procedural History

Alien Tort Statute

ATS, RIP?

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.

Alien Tort Statute

Time to Pivot? Thoughts on Jesner v. Arab Bank

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.

Alien Tort Statute

Justice Gorsuch is Right: Jesner and the Original Meaning of the Alien Tort Statute

On Oct. 11, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Jesner v. Arab Bank. Jesner involves whether the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) allows federal courts to exercise jurisdiction over claims by aliens against corporations. As originally enacted in Section 9 of the Judiciary Act of 1789, the ATS provided that “the district courts ... shall ... have cognizance ...

Alien Tort Statute

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

In Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, the Supreme Court held that the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) is presumed not to apply to conduct on the territory of another country unless the plaintiff’s claims “touch and concern” the United States with sufficient force to overcome that presumption. For the last four years, plaintiffs, defendants and courts have struggled to define the contours of the Supreme Court’s cryptic “touch and concern” standard.

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