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International Law in the U.S. Legal System, 2nd Edition by Bradley, Curtis A (4th June 2015)

7 Alien Tort Statute Litigation

From: International Law in the U.S. Legal System (2nd Edition)

Curtis A. Bradley

US Alien Tort Statute — Customary international law — Human rights remedies — Detention — Immunity from jurisdiction — Torture — International criminal law, victims — Tort

This chapter considers litigation under the Alien Tort Statute, which provides for jurisdiction over suits brought by aliens for torts in violation of international law. The chapter begins by exploring Congress’s likely intent in enacting the Statute in 1789, and how the Statute may have related to Article III of the Constitution. The chapter then describes how the Statute received little attention until the Filartiga decision in 1980, which allowed for it to be used by aliens to sue other aliens for human rights abuses committed abroad. The chapter proceeds to explore a variety of doctrinal issues relating to this human rights litigation, including the source of the cause of action, the standards for bringing a claim, and the ability to sue corporations. The chapter then discusses the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, in which the Court substantially curtailed the territorial reach of claims that could be brought under the Statute.

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