Court Revisits Alien Tort Statute in Opening Session

, The National Law Journal

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Opening its new term with old business, the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday appeared likely to restrict lawsuits in federal courts by foreign victims of human rights violations committed abroad.

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What's being said

  • Ravi Batra

    CONTRADICTION IN LAW. Sovereignty was a concept more absolute when the world was analogue. In today’s digital social media driven society, the world is flat and “sovereignty” is challenged internally by human rights and externally by post-Rwanda responsibility to protect (R2P).



    The Alien Tort Claim act, if unconstrained, is R2P on steroids, as a single nation’s courts may act and can severely damage comity amongst nations, including, that faded but core principle of sovereign-immunity. As the late great Federal District Judge John Sprizzo warned, albeit, in a footnote, while denying the government’s contempt application against men of the cloth for blocking an abortion clinic due to their “genuinely held beliefs,” we need to be aware of being held responsible by a future “superbody,” a Nuremberg-type tribunal. General consensus amongst nations, aka might is right, is the real danger that lurks in well intentioned human rights, R2P and the ATCA and something that can be turned on its head by majority vote. It is no accident that the United Nations General Assembly, with a 193 nations at last count, with South Sudan recently born, isn’t the seat of power that the Security Council is with 15 member nations, where the P5, as the victor-nations of WWII are known, each having veto power to thwart the will of the super majority, let alone a mere majority.



    The principle at play to preserve the P5 in the UNSC stands in stark contrast to ATCA, R2P, and human rights.



    Dated: 10/2/12 /s/ Ravi Batra

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