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Supreme Court agrees to hear question of corporate liability under the Alien Tort Statute

Earlier today, the US Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum. As will be recalled from a previous post, in September of 2010, a divided panel of the Second Circuit held that corporate liability did not exist under the Alien Tort Statute. In similar cases, the D.C Circuit  (John Doe VIII v. Exxon Mobil), and the Seventh Circuit (Flomo v. Firestone Natural Rubber Co.) reached the opposite conclusion, holding there was corporate liability under the ATS. This should be a fascinating oral argument.

Here is the question and links to documents from SCOTUS blog:

Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum (Granted )

Docket: 10-1491
Issue(s): (1) Whether the issue of corporate civil tort liability under the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, is a merits question or instead an issue of subject matter jurisdiction; and (2) whether corporations are immune from tort liability for violations of the law of nations such as torture, extrajudicial executions or genocide or may instead be sued in the same manner as any other private party defendant under the ATS for such egregious violations.

Certiorari stage documents:

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Welcome! Who am I?



Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.