The Alien Tort Statute (ATS), all but ignored for almost the first 200 years of its existence, states that federal district courts "shall also have cognizance, ... of all causes where an alien sues for a tort only in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States."
This Supreme Court has already ruled that companies have a First Amendment protected right to purchase elections. Now it should recognize that when corporations are granted the same rights as human beings, they must also be endowed with the same responsibilities.
Shell's lawyers actually argued to the Supreme Court that a hypothetical company -- Pirates Incorporated -- should not be held accountable for their crimes, because, you guessed it, they're a corporation.
This week, a group of Somalians subjected to torture and other human rights abuses by the Somalian regime received a measure of justice before a U.S. federal district court. This year, will the U.S. Supreme Court allow such cases to continue?
Congress created this right, and it has served to promote principals of international justice for over two centuries. The Supreme Court must not now render the statute worthless by gutting its most important, and most powerful, component.
Several news stories and blog posts suggest that the Supreme Court is prepared to grant corporations immunity from human rights lawsuits. That was not a conclusion I thought could be easily drawn after the hearing.
Should corporations have immunity for human rights abuses? Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments in a case that will decide whether corporations will be exempted from a crucial law that allows foreign victims of serious human rights abuses to sue them in US courts for civil damages.
A recent court decision being hailed as the end of the multi-billion dollar Alien Tort Statute litigation industry is anything but, as plaintiffs' cross-hairs will simply shift from corporations to the individuals who serve them.
Coca-Cola has long marketed itself as synonymous with American values. But after recent allegations that it covered up acts of murder and rape at a Guatemalan subsidiary, Coca Cola may face up to justice.