UVA Law School Symposium on Conflicting Legal Norms in US and Foreign Courts

By Kenneth Anderson
Thursday, February 9, 2012, 8:17 AM

John Bellinger's last post on the amicus filings on behalf of defendants in the Kiobel Alien Tort Statute case, to be heard in the Supreme Court later this month, made me think this conference at UVA law school tomorrow would be worth mentioning.  It is a symposium on how to resolve conflicting legal norms in US and foreign courts:

The conference ... will explore how to resolve conflicting legal norms found in the United States and abroad, particularly as domestic laws extend their reach beyond countries’ borders. ”Although domestic and foreign legal norms have always interacted, the particular issues that will be addressed during our 2012 symposium have yet to be given significant attention in legal scholarship,” said third-year law student Zach Torres-Fowler, managing editor of the Virginia Journal of International Law.

The keynote speaker for the conference will be Legal Adviser Harold Koh, speaking at 9 am Friday; and the day’s panels feature many leading professors, addressing current expressions of these conflicts in ways ranging from the Chevron Ecuador case to "libel tourism."  The ATS cases are certain to come up in these discussions.  One might say that the conference takes up the question, as regards US and foreign courts, what is the hallowed phrase "sovereign equality of states" supposed to mean in today's legal systems? (I give my own high-altitude view of the ATS debate at Volokh Conspiracy; essentially I think the ATS is the "law of the hegemon" masquerading in US courts as "international law.")