Justices Limit Reach of Alien Tort Statute

, The National Law Journal


The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday sharply limited the reach of a federal law used to hold corporations and others accountable for human rights abuses committed abroad. But human rights lawyers predicted additional litigation over how much of the federal courthouse door was left ajar.

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What's being said

  • Ravi Batra

    The Alien Tort Claim Act or ATS violated the core principle of respectful co-existence by and between sovereigns/nations in the comity of nations - and invited retaliatory reciprocity whereby other nations could pass laws that exposed United States citizens to liability on foreign soil for acts done here in the United States. ATS was a sovereignty killer - and that was its core sin. The necessary clipping of its wings now makes it lawful. While it is risky to predict what the Supreme Court might do, I am glad my prediction came true. ATS, like Responsibility to Protect (R2P), while well-intentioned and humane, also has an underbelly of being a sovereignty-killer. Surely, no one can be against human rights, but using laws that have core birth defects or can be applied improperly need to be watched carefully - to paraphrase Charles Dickens, “the law must never be an ass.”

    Dated: 4/17/13


    Ravi Batra

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