It has been more than two years since I have posted anything related to the Alien Tort Statute because, well, with the 2013 US Supreme Court decision in Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum the court pretty much made the statute irrelevant. That case raised the issue of whether the statute could be used to support claims against corporations. However, in a surprising move, the Court asked the parties to brief a different issue (extraterritoriality), and eventually decided the case based only on that issue. For all the background stories, go to the Alien Tort Statute section of the blog here.
In 2014, the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit decided one case on the ATS holding that holding that corporations, and not just state actors, can face liability
for violations of universal norms under the Alien Tort Statute. At the time, I thought that case would open the door for a renewed discussion of the issue, but the case did not reach the Supreme Court.
But now the wait is apparently over. Just a few days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case in which the issue is precisely whether corporations can be liable under the Alien Tort Statute. Stay tuned!
For more information and some links on the case (Jesner v. Arab Bank) go here. For up to date coverage and access to all the documents related to the case go to the SCotUS blog here.