Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Stakes in Kiobel

Next Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., a case that raises the question of corporate liability under the Alien Tort Statute for human rights violations.  As Peter Weiss, vice president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, notes in an op-ed in today's New York Times, the Supreme Court granted corporations some of the rights of individuals in Citizens United; to turn around and exempt corporations from the responsibilities that individuals have under the Alien Tort Statute would be a "startling paradox."

Meanwhile, on Friday, former State Department legal adviser John Bellinger argued in a Washington Post op-ed that the Supreme Court should uphold the Second Circuit's decision against corporate liability in ATS cases in order to avoid friction between the United States and other governments that have direct ties to corporations accused of human rights violations, like Royal Dutch/Shell.

Check back for more on Kiobel and the ATS in the next few days.